DUBLIN, Calif.-Ross Stores posted a 7.9 percent drop in fourth-quarter net income, to $218 million, while at the same time reporting a gain of 6.4 percent in fiscal-year net income, which totaled $837.3 million.
The quarterly retreat in the bottom line stemmed from a 0.7 percent decline in net sales to $2.7 billion, which included a pickup of 2 percent in same-store sales. In addition, gross margin in the quarter, which ended on Feb. 1, fell 46 basis points to 27.3 percent. Selling, general and administrative expenses were up 2.9 percent in dollars and 51 basis points as a percentage of sales, to 14.6 percent.
For the year, net sales gained 5.2 percent to $10.2 billion. This included a 3 percent rise in same-store sales.
Michael Balmuth, Ross’ vice chairman and CEO, said the fourth-quarter sales number was in line with what the company expected. “Despite a very promotional retail environment throughout the holiday season, customers responded favorably to the compelling bargains we offered on a wide assortment of fresh and exciting name-brand fashions and gifts,” Balmuth said.
He added that Ross’ outlook for this year is cautious. “As we enter 2014, in addition to our own challenging multiyear sales and earnings comparisons, we also continue to face ongoing uncertainty in the macroeconomic and retail climates,” he said.