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Home glows at Ross Stores

Pleasanton,Calif.– Home was one of the two “best performing” merchandise categories during the first quarter for Ross Stores, the retailer said during its earnings call today; dresses was the other top-selling category.

Net earnings rose 13% to $67.0 million from $59.2 million one year ago. Sales climbed 9% to $1.4 billion, but comps were flat.

Michael Balmuth, vice chairman, president and ceo, said, "For the second quarter ending August 4, 2007 , we are forecasting same-store sales gains of 1% to 2% and earnings per share in the range of $.35 to $.37.” He added that earlier earnings guidance of $1.85 to $1.95 per share for the year is still valid.

Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Ross said it remains on focus to expand its gift-giving merchandise for the holiday season. In addition, home – “which continues to post solid gains” – will be relied upon to keep driving traffic, as it has historically, especially during the fourth quarter.

On the real estate front, the 830-unit off-price retailer – 796 Ross Dress for Less and 34 dd’s discounts locations – forecasts second-quarter openings of 32 locations: 21 Ross and 11 dd’s.

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