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Ross reports strong growth

Pleasanton, Calif. - Ross Stores net earnings climbed 19% to $144.0 million during the third quarter, with earnings per share of $1.26, up from $1.02, a 24% increase.
Sales increased 9% to $2.046 billion, with comps rising 5% over the prior year's quarter.
Apparel was cited as a key driver of profitability. The home business was not discussed in detail during the company's quarterly conference call this morning.
Ross credited lower in-store inventories, faster turns and lower markdowns for improved profit margins.
Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are pleased with our above-plan sales and earnings in the third quarter and first nine months of 2011, especially considering this growth was achieved on top of exceptional increases in the prior two years."
Ross Stores board of directors approved a two-for-one stock split and declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 22 cents per share, or 11 cents per share post-split.

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