(By Balaseshan) Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST), which operates two brands of off-price retail apparel and home fashion stores, said its comparable store sales for the month of December grew 6% on top of last year's 9% gain.
Sales increased 11% to $1.276 billion for the five weeks ended December 29, 2012, from $1.149 billion for the five weeks ended December 31, 2011.
For the eleven months ended December 29, 2012, comparable store sales increased 7% on top of a 5% gain in 2011. Sales grew 11% to $9.049 billion from $8.125 billion in the previous year period.
"We are pleased with December same store sales that were ahead of our expectations for a 2% to 3% increase. These gains were on top of our most challenging sales comparison of the year and demonstrate the ongoing resilience of our off-price model as we continue to attract value-conscious shoppers with our wide assortments of compelling name brand bargains," said Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
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Looking ahead into the fourth quarter, the company increased its earnings guidance to range of $1.05 to $1.06 per share from previous forecast of $0.99 to $1.04 per share, while Street a analysts predict $1.04 per share.
Balmuth said the company raised forecast based on better-than-expected sales and margin trends quarter-to-date and its continued assumption for a 1% to 2% increase in January same store sales.
ROST is trading up 7.37% at $58.45 on Thursday. The stock has been trading between $47.05 and $70.82 for the past 52 weeks.