• Q3 earnings rose 7.6% to US$171.6m from $159.5m 
  • Sales increased 6% to $2.398bn 
  • Comparable store sales up 2%

Ross Stores has said it remains cautious in its outlook after the off-price retailer lowered its fourth-quarter earnings per share guidance, despite posting a rise in third-quarter net profit and sales.

"Third quarter sales were in line with our guidance, while earnings were better-than-expected mainly due to above-plan merchandise gross margin," said vice chairman and CEO Michael Balmuth.

"Operating margin of 11.3% was relatively flat to last year. As a percent of sales, an improvement in cost of goods sold was offset by an increase in selling, general and administrative expenses."

The company now expects fourth-quarter earnings per share to be $0.97-1.01, compared to its earlier guidance of $0.99-1.03. Comparable store sales for the period are forecast to be up 1-2%, down on its earlier 2-3% expectations.

For the full year, however, earnings per share are projected to reach $3.83-3.87, slightly up on its earlier $3.83-3.87 forecast.