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Ross Stores Third Quarter EPS Up 19%

NEWARK, Calif., Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Ross Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq: ROST) today reported net earnings for the 13 weeks ended November 3, 2001 of $35.0 million, compared to $29.7 million for the 13 weeks ended October 28, 2000. Earnings per share for the same period grew 19% to $.43, from $.36 in the prior year. Current year third quarter sales totaled $739 million, up 16% from the $639 million in sales for the third quarter ended October 28, 2000. Comparable store sales for the period increased a solid 5% over the prior year.

For the nine months ended November 3, 2001, net earnings totaled $105.1 million, compared to $106.5 million for the same period in 2000. Earnings per share for the first nine months rose 2% to $1.29 from $1.27 in the prior year. Sales for the first nine months grew 11% to $2.138 billion, compared to $1.930 billion in the prior year, with same store sales up 1% for the period.

Michael Balmuth, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "Despite today's very challenging environment, we were able to report solid improvement in sales trends during the third quarter. The back-to-school businesses of Junior's, Young Men's and Children's, along with the home businesses, were the strongest performers during the period. In addition, we believe that our business continues to benefit from our efforts to increase the levels of nationally-recognized name brand product, create a more balanced mix of ladies career vs. casual apparel, and add more diversity to our home assortments."

Mr. Balmuth continued, "Gross margin during the third quarter declined 11 basis points. Lower initial mark-ups, which helped us deliver better values, were partially offset by a decline in freight as a percent of sales and some leverage on occupancy costs. The solid increase in comparable store sales also contributed to a slight improvement in general, selling and administrative costs, which declined 4 basis points during the quarter. As a result, operating margin for the third quarter, at down 3 basis points, was relatively flat to the prior year."

Mr. Balmuth noted, "During the first nine months of the year, we continued to invest free cash flows in our stock repurchase program. As of November 3, 2001, we had repurchased a total of 13.5 million shares for an aggregate purchase price of $251.6 million under our two-year, $300 million buyback program authorized in February of 2000. We ended the quarter with 79.9 million shares of common stock outstanding."

"Our expansion program remains on schedule, with 45 new stores opened to date in 2001. These include 13 locations in our new southeast markets of Georgia, North and South Carolina. We are very encouraged by the solid performance to date of these new market stores, which bodes well for future growth opportunities. After closing three older locations during the year, we plan to end fiscal 2001 with 451 stores in 22 states," said Mr. Balmuth.

The company will provide additional details concerning its third quarter results and business outlook on a conference call to be held on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. A listen-only live recording of the conference call can be accessed by going to the company's website at A playback of the call will also be available at the web site address or by calling 402-220-5900, PIN #2342 until November 27, 2001.

Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains certain forward-looking statements which are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause the company's actual results to differ materially from management's current expectations. The words "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "believe," "forecast," "projected" and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Risk factors include obtaining acceptable new store locations, competitive pressures in the apparel industry, changes in economic conditions, changes in the level of consumer spending on or preferences in apparel or home-related merchandise, unseasonable weather trends, and greater than planned operating costs. Other risk factors are detailed in the company's Form 10-K for fiscal 2000. 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 the company's outlook at any other point in time. The company does not undertake to update or revise these forward-looking statements.

Ross Stores, Inc. operates a chain of off-price retail stores offering first quality, in-season, branded apparel and apparel-related merchandise for the entire family at prices that average 20% to 60% less than department and specialty stores, as well as merchandise for the home at similar savings. The company had 453 stores in operation November 3, 2001, compared to 411 stores at the end of the same period last year.

                                ROSS STORES, INC.

                                                 November 3,       October 28,
    ($000, unaudited)                               2001              2000


    Current Assets
           Cash and cash equivalents               $36,182           $34,758
           Accounts receivable                      22,221            18,748
           Merchandise inventory                   697,854           594,428
           Other current assets                     29,837            19,576
                Total Current Assets              $786,094          $667,510

           Property and equipment, net             323,806           292,126
           Lease rights, deferred income
            taxes and other assets                  39,992            60,953
                                                $1,149,892        $1,020,589


Current Liabilities

           Accounts payable, accrued
            expenses and other                    $485,120          $447,018
           Income taxes payable                     25,875             7,879
                Total Current Liabilities         $510,995          $454,897

            Long-term debt                          75,000            80,000
            Other liabilities                       39,029            50,224

    Stockholders' Equity                           524,868           435,468
                                                $1,149,892        $1,020,589

                                ROSS STORES, INC.

                                   Three Months Ended     Nine Months Ended
                                   Nov. 3    Oct. 28,    Nov. 3,     Oct. 28,
                                     2001      2000       2001        2000
    ($000, except per share data,
    Sales                          $739,272  $639,469  $2,138,223  $1,929,932

    Costs and Expenses
           Cost of goods sold and
            occupancy               508,746   439,379   1,478,668   1,329,601
           General, selling and
            administrative          159,755   138,449     446,981     390,541
           Depreciation and
            amortization             12,792    11,279      36,869      32,529
           Interest expense             463     1,531       3,168       2,371
                                    681,756   590,638   1,965,686   1,755,042

    Earnings before income taxes     57,516    48,831     172,537     174,890

    Provision for taxes on
     earnings                        22,489    19,093      67,462      68,382
    Net earnings                    $35,027   $29,738    $105,075    $106,508

    Earnings per share
           Basic                      $0.44     $0.36       $1.31       $1.28
           Diluted                    $0.43     $0.36       $1.29       $1.27

    Weighted average shares
           Basic                     79,925    81,837      80,059      83,292
           Diluted                   81,479    82,389      81,236      84,025

    Stores open end of period           453       411         453         411

SOURCE Ross Stores, Inc.

CONTACT: John G. Call, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, +1-510-505-4315, or Katie Loughnot, Vice President, Investor Relations, +1-510-505-4509, or, both of Ross Stores, Inc./