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Ross Stores Reports Record Third Quarter Earnings; Updates Fourth Quarter 2008 Guidance

PLEASANTON, Calif., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ross Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq: ROST) today reported that earnings per share for the 13 weeks ended November 1, 2008 increased 22% to $.44, from $.36 for the 13 weeks ended November 3, 2007. Net earnings for the third quarter ended November 1, 2008 grew to a record $57.3 million, up from $48.7 million for the third quarter ended November 3, 2007. Fiscal 2008 third quarter sales increased 6% to $1.555 billion, with comparable store sales even with the prior year period.

For the nine months ended November 1, 2008, earnings per share increased 30% to $1.57, from $1.21 for the nine months ended November 3, 2007. Net earnings for the year-to-date period in 2008 grew to a record $208.1 million, up from $166.6 million in the prior year period. Sales for the first nine months of 2008 increased 10% to $4.752 billion, with comparable store sales up 3%.

Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are pleased with our solid third quarter earnings growth, especially considering the very challenging macro-economic and retail environment. The ongoing resilience and flexibility of our off-price business model enabled us to respond to these external pressures by further reducing both inventories and expenses. These actions, along with better-than-expected shortage results from our annual physical inventory during the quarter, enabled us to protect profit margins and deliver earnings per share at the high end of our original guidance."

Mr. Balmuth continued, "Operating margin in the third quarter increased about 70 basis points to 6.1%, as a 130 basis point gain in gross margin was partially offset by a 60 basis point increase in selling, general and administrative expenses. Higher merchandise margin was the main driver of this improved profitability, as strict inventory management increased our open-to-buy position and drove faster turns and lower markdowns. As noted above, we also benefited from lower shrink results due to efficient execution of our shortage control initiatives over the past year. The increase in selling, general and administrative costs was driven in part by a shift of payroll dollars associated with the receipt of holiday merchandise from this year's fourth quarter into the third quarter. Also, as expected, comparisons were affected by a construction-related settlement at one of our distribution facilities in the third quarter of 2007 that benefited that prior year period by about 25 basis points."

Mr. Balmuth also noted, "Both our balance sheet and cash flows remain strong and healthy. During the first nine months of 2008, we continued to return capital to stockholders through our dividend and stock repurchase programs, buying back a total of 7.0 million shares of common stock for an aggregate of $231 million. We remain on track to complete during 2008 approximately $300 million of our current two-year $600 million stock repurchase program."

Looking ahead, Mr. Balmuth said, "We believe our stores are competitively positioned to appeal to an increasingly value-driven customer as we enter the important fourth quarter. Our merchants have been able to take advantage of the increased supply of terrific close-out opportunities in today's markets to create fresh and exciting assortments of sharply-priced name-brand bargains and gifts. Compared to most other retailers, our steadfast focus on delivering compelling values has helped to offset some of the impact on our business from the recent slowdown in consumer spending. That said, based on the increasingly difficult macro-economic and retail climate and our expectation of a very promotional holiday season, we believe it is prudent to adopt a more conservative outlook for the fourth quarter."

"As a result, while we hope to do better, for the 13 weeks ending January 31, 2009, we now are projecting comparable store sales to decline 1% to 3% and forecasting earnings per share to be in the range of $.69 to $.75, compared to $.70 in the 2007 fourth quarter. For the 2008 fiscal year ending January 31, 2009, we now are forecasting earnings per share in the range of $2.26 to $2.32, for a projected increase of 19% to 22% over $1.90 in fiscal 2007," Mr. Balmuth concluded.

The Company will provide additional details concerning its third quarter results, projected fourth quarter and fiscal 2008 guidance, and business outlook on a conference call to be held on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. Participants may listen to a real time audio webcast of the conference call by visiting the Company's website located at A recorded version of the call will be available through November 26, 2008 via a telephone recording at 706-645-9291, PIN # 34960252 as well as at the website address.

Forward-Looking Statements: This press release and the recorded comments on our website contain forward-looking statements regarding expected sales and earnings levels in future periods that are subject to risks and uncertainties which could cause our actual results to differ materially from management's current expectations. Risk factors for Ross Dress for Less(R) ("Ross") and dd's DISCOUNTS(R) include, without limitation, competitive pressures in the apparel industry; changes in the level of consumer spending on or preferences for apparel or home-related merchandise, including the potential impact from uncertainty in financial and credit markets and higher gas and commodity prices; changes in geopolitical and general economic conditions; unseasonable weather trends; disruptions in supply chain; lower than planned gross margin, including higher than planned markdowns and higher than expected inventory shortage; greater than planned operating costs; our ability to continue to purchase attractive brand-name merchandise at desirable discounts; our ability to attract and retain personnel with the retail talent necessary to execute our strategies; our ability to effectively operate our various supply chain, core merchandising and other information systems; our ability to improve our merchandising capabilities through the development and implementation of new processes and systems enhancements; achieving and maintaining targeted levels of productivity and efficiency in our distribution centers; potential pressure on freight costs from higher-than-expected fuel surcharges; and obtaining acceptable new store locations. Other risk factors are detailed in our SEC filings including, without limitation, the Form 10-K for fiscal 2007 and Form 10-Q's and 8-K's for fiscal 2008. The factors underlying our forecasts are dynamic and subject to change. As a result, our forecasts speak only as of the date they are given and do not necessarily reflect our outlook at any other point in time. We do not undertake to update or revise these forward- looking statements.

Ross Stores, Inc., a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Pleasanton, California, is the nation's second largest off-price retailer with fiscal 2007 revenues of $6.0 billion. As of November 1, 2008, the Company operated 906 Ross Dress for Less(R) ("Ross") stores and 57 dd's DISCOUNTS(R) locations, compared to 841 Ross and 52 dd's DISCOUNTS locations at the end of the same period last year. Ross offers first-quality, in-season, name brand and designer apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions for the entire family at everyday savings of 20 to 60 percent off department and specialty store regular prices. dd's DISCOUNTS features a more moderately-priced assortment of first-quality, in-season, name brand apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions for the entire family at everyday savings of 20 to 70 percent off moderate department and discount store regular prices. Additional information is available at

                                Ross Stores, Inc.
                  Condensed Consolidated Statements of Earnings

                                  Three Months Ended      Nine Months Ended
    ($000, except stores and   November 1, November 3, November 1, November 3,
     per share data, unaudited)   2008        2007        2008        2007

    Sales                      $1,555,287  $1,468,337  $4,752,027  $4,323,510

    Costs and expenses
           Cost of goods sold   1,198,451   1,150,754   3,635,230   3,353,318
           Selling, general
            and administrative    262,534     238,847     779,045     698,376
           Interest income, net       (15)        (12)     (2,688)     (1,338)
              Total costs and
               expenses         1,460,970   1,389,589   4,411,587   4,050,356

    Earnings before taxes          94,317      78,748     340,440     273,154
    Provision for taxes on
     earnings                      37,047      30,066     132,386     106,565
    Net earnings                  $57,270     $48,682    $208,054    $166,589

    Earnings per share
           Basic                    $0.44       $0.36       $1.60       $1.23
           Diluted                  $0.44       $0.36       $1.57       $1.21

    Weighted average shares
     outstanding (000)
           Basic                  128,930     134,429     130,119     135,856
           Diluted                131,099     136,215     132,324     138,172

    Dividends per share
           Cash dividends
            declared per share      $0.10       $0.08       $0.19       $0.15

    Stores open at end of
     period                           963         893         963         893

                                Ross Stores, Inc.
                      Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets

                                                 November 1,       November 3,
    ($000, unaudited)                               2008              2007


    Current Assets
           Cash and cash equivalents              $231,241          $151,548
           Short-term investments                    2,833             6,177
           Accounts receivable                      47,104            47,515
           Merchandise inventory                 1,093,082         1,119,070
           Prepaid expenses and other               62,591            57,392
           Deferred income taxes                    19,805            32,647
                Total current assets             1,456,656         1,414,349

    Property and equipment, net                    931,891           828,487
    Long-term investments                           39,072            32,827
    Other long-term assets                          55,020            67,979
    Total assets                                $2,482,639        $2,343,642

    Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity

    Current Liabilities
           Accounts payable, accrued
            expenses and other                  $1,098,755        $1,012,904
                Total current liabilities        1,098,755         1,012,904

    Long-term debt                                 150,000           150,000
    Other long-term liabilities                    162,134           170,214
    Deferred income taxes                           85,860            79,621

    Commitments and contingencies

    Stockholders' Equity                           985,890           930,903
            Total liabilities and
             stockholders' equity               $2,482,639        $2,343,642

                                Ross Stores, Inc.
                 Condensed Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows

                                                      Nine Months Ended
                                                 November 1,       November 3,
     ($000, unaudited)                              2008              2007

     Cash Flows From Operating Activities
     Net earnings                                 $208,054          $166,589
     Adjustments to reconcile net
      earnings to net cash provided by
     operating activities:
          Depreciation and amortization            100,919            89,746
          Stock-based compensation                  17,156            19,535
          Deferred income taxes                      6,795           (22,987)
          Tax benefit from equity
           issuance                                  8,105             5,601
          Excess tax benefits from stock-
           based compensation                       (5,850)           (4,697)
     Change in assets and liabilities:
          Merchandise inventory                    (67,787)          (67,341)
          Other current assets                     (19,272)          (30,557)
          Accounts payable                          61,982           (33,277)
          Other current liabilities                 48,646           (19,933)
          Other long-term, net                      10,085            29,726
          Net cash provided by operating
           activities                              368,833           132,405

     Cash Flows From Investing Activities
     Additions to property and equipment          (175,468)         (176,790)
     Proceeds from sales of property and
      equipment                                        117                 0
     Purchases of investments                      (32,942)          (63,213)
     Proceeds from investments                      33,833            61,162
          Net cash used in investing
           activities                             (174,460)         (178,841)

     Cash Flows From Financing Activities
     Issuance of common stock related to
      stock plans                                   45,599            12,789
     Excess tax benefits from stock-based
      compensation                                   5,850             4,697
     Treasury stock purchased                       (3,560)           (3,638)
     Repurchase of common stock                   (231,404)         (152,598)
     Dividends paid                                (37,197)          (30,654)
          Net cash used in financing
           activities                             (220,712)         (169,404)
     Net decrease in cash and cash
      equivalents                                  (26,339)         (215,840)
     Cash and cash equivalents:
          Beginning of period                      257,580           367,388
          End of period                           $231,241          $151,548

     Supplemental Cash Flow Disclosures
     Interest paid                                  $4,834            $4,834
     Income taxes paid                            $139,215          $142,767

     Non-Cash Investing Activities
     Change in fair value of investment
      securities -unrealized                       $(4,069)             $570
     (loss) gain

SOURCE Ross Stores, Inc.

John G. Call,
Senior Vice President,
Chief Financial Officer,
Bobbi Chaville,
Senior Director,
Investor Relations,
both of Ross Stores, Inc.

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