Ross Stores Inc, the second largest off-price company in the US, yesterday (20 November) reported a 10.9% rise in third quarter earnings, and reiterated its guidance for the fourth quarter.

The Pleasanton, California based company, which operates the Ross Dress for Less and DD's Discounts stores, said net earnings for the quarter totalled $48.7m, compared to $43.9m in the same period last year.

Earnings per share for the 13 weeks to 3 November grew 16% to $0.36 from $0.31.

Third quarter sales increased 8% to $1.468bn, with same store sales for the period up 1% on top of a 4% gain in the prior year.

For the nine month period, net earnings rose to $166.6m from $148.5m, and earnings per share increased 16% to $1.21. Sales for the nine months increased 9% to $4.324bn, with comparable store sales up 1%.

Looking ahead, for the fourth quarter the company reiterated its projections for same store sales growth of 1% to 3% and earnings per share in the range of $.62 to $.68.

This would put earnings per share for the year ending 2 February 2008 in the range of $1.83 to $1.89, up from $1.70 in the previous year.

Last year's fourth quarter and fiscal year results included income equivalent to about $.07 per share related to the 53rd week in fiscal 2006. On a comparable 52-week basis, our annual forecast represents 12% to 16% earnings per share growth over the prior year."