(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.
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.