by Brian Lipton

RossCalifornia-based off-price retailer Ross Stores has reported its financial reports for the third quarter ended October 29, 2016.

Earnings per share increased 17 percent to $0.62 per share, while net earnings grew to $245 million, up from $216 million last year. Sales for the 2016 third quarter rose 11 percent to $3.1 billion, with comparable store sales up 7 percent versus a 3 percent gain in the prior year.

The company also announced that it remained on track to buy back a total of $700 million in common stock during fiscal 2016 and to complete the two-year $1.4 billion authorization approved by our Board of Directors in February 2015.

“We are very pleased with our better-than-expected sales and earnings growth in the third quarter as customers responded favorably to the compelling values we offered throughout our stores,” said CEO Barbara Rentler. “As we enter this year’s holiday season, we face our most challenging multi-year sales comparisons.  In addition, the ongoing uncertainty in the macro-economic, political, and retail environments could, once again, lead to a very promotional fourth quarter.”

In keeping with those “headwinds” Rentler confirmed that the company has updated its fiscal guidance. 2016 earnings per share are now forecasted to be $2.78 to $2.81, up approximately 12 percent, while earnings per share for the fourth quarter are expected to be $0.72 to $0.75, up from $0.66 in last year’s fourth quarter.