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Ross Stores Thrives, But Cuts Outlook

Off-pricer Ross Stores reported solid third-quarter growth — and record earnings year-to-date — but shaved its full year EPS projection to "the range of $2.26 to $2.32, for a projected increase of 19% to 22% over $1.90 in fiscal 2007," said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman, president and ceo.

Guidance three months ago was for full year earnings of $2.33-$2.38, which would have been an increase of 23% to 25% over 2007.

Quarterly sales of $1.56 billion for the period ending Nov. 1 were 6% above $1.47 billion; comps were flat. Earnings of $57.3 million, or 44 cents per share, were up from $48.7 million or 36 cents per share one year ago.

For the nine months year to date, the 963-unit retailer saw EPS of $1.57, up 30% from 1.21 in the year-ago period. The $208.0 million earnings to date was a record.

Year-to-date sales were up 10% to $4.75 billion, with comps up 3%.

Balmuth noted that the company has prospered this year by successfully executing its closeout-based business model, and by substantial cuts in inventory and expenses.

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