Ross Stores beats quarterly estimates on steady demand for discounted products

(Reuters) – Ross Stores on Thursday posted first-quarter results above Wall Street estimates and raised its annual profit forecast, as shoppers pivot to off-price retailers prompted by sticky inflation that have squeezed their budgets.

The California-based company’s shares jumped nearly 7% to $141 in extended trading, after the company also posted an increase of 205 basis points in its quarterly operating margin.

Over the last year, Ross’s sales have recovered amid moderating inflation and a strong response to its value offerings on branded and designer apparel and footwear among its core lower-income cohort.

Still, the company cautioned on pressures in discretionary spending and said it would continue to manage inventory and expenses tightly in order to maximize sales and earnings growth over the balance of the year.

“Ongoing uncertainty in today’s macroeconomic and geopolitical environments, including prolonged inflation, continue to squeeze our low-to-moderate income customers’ purchasing power,” said Ross CEO Barbara Rentler.

Ross’s results echo that of its off-price peer TJX Cos which, a day earlier, posted better-than-expected first-quarter results and raised annual profit forecast helped by easing costs and strong demand.

There were concerns around the company’s lower income, more price-sensitive shoppers, Telsey Advisory Group analyst Dana Telsey wrote in a note on May 17.

The company logged sales of $4.86 billion for the quarter ended May 4, above analysts’ average estimate of $4.83 billion, according to LSEG data.

It earned $1.46 per share compared to expectations of $1.35.

It maintained fiscal 2024 comparable store sales forecast at 2% to 3% rise and now expects profit per share in the range of $5.79 to $5.98, from prior range of $5.64 to $5.89.

(Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)