Ross reports record sales and earnings for 2009

Pleasanton, Calif. Ross Stores said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit rose to $142.9 million from $97.4 million. Sales rose to $1.98 billion from $1.73 billion.

For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 30, net earnings grew 45% to a record $442.8 million, from $305.4 million last year. Sales increased 11% to $7.184 billion, with comparable-store sales up 6% on top of a 2% gain in the prior year.

Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and CEO, commented: "We are exceptionally pleased with our outstanding sales and earnings results for the fourth quarter and full year. During one of the most challenging economic and retail environments, we not only generated stronger-than-planned revenues, but did so with record merchandise gross margins that drove double-digit operating profits as a percent of sales. The best performing merchandise categories for both the quarter and the year were Shoes, Dresses and Home, while geographic trends were broad-based, with all regions posting healthy comparable-store sales gains for both periods."