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BUSINESS NEWS: Ross Stores sales up 6% from year ago

Pleasanton-based company reports dress, home goods sales led early fall gains

Pleasanton-based Ross Stores, Inc. today reported that sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 2 increased 6% to $666 million from $629 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 3 last year.

Same store sales for the month rose 2% on top of an 8% gain in the prior year.

For the eight months ended Oct. 2, sales totaled $5.121 billion, up 10% over the $4.647 billion in sales for the eight months ended Oct. 3, 2009. Comparable store sales for the eight months ended October 2, 2010 increased 6% on top of a 4% gain in 2009.

"While we experienced unseasonably warm weather during the month in many of our core markets, we still were able to achieve same store sales at the high end of our expectations," said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and CEO. "Dresses and home (goods) were the top merchandise categories during the month, while Florida was the best-performing market."

Looking ahead, Balmuth said: "I am pleased to report that earnings per share for the 13 weeks ending Oct. 30 are now projected to be in the range of $.94 to $.96, compared to $.84 in last year's third quarter. The forecasted upside from our previous earnings per share guidance of $.79 to $.83 is being driven mainly by much better-than-expected shortage results from our annual physical inventory of stores in September along with other favorable gross margin trends."

"Our lower projected shrink expense for 2010 reflects the significant progress we have made over the past few years in successfully implementing our shortage control initiatives," he added. "Our updated third quarter guidance also reflects our continued expectation for October same store sales to be flat to up 1%."

"For the fourth quarter ending Jan. 29, 2011, we continue to project comparable store sales to be flat to down 1% and earnings per share of $1.15 to $1.20," Balmuth said. "For the 2010 fiscal year ending Jan. 29, 2011, earnings per share now are forecast to be in the range of $4.33 to $4.40, a projected increase of 22% to 24% over $3.54 in fiscal 2009."

Additional recorded information concerning today's announcement and the company's future outlook can be accessed by calling 706-645-9291, PIN #53158824, through 5 p.m. tonight Pacific time. A transcript of these comments will also be available in the Investors section of the company's website at www.rossstores.com.

Ross Stores, which is headquartered in the Carr America Corporate Center in Pleasanton, expects to report October 2010 sales results on Thursday, Nov. 4.

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