Home Glows at Ross Stores

Home was one of the two "best performing" merchandise categories during the first quarter for Ross Stores, the retailer said during its quarterly earnings call; 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 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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