T J Maxx

TJX Cos.’ bargain-conscious shoppers continued to drive sales growth, leading to a 42% increase in fiscal fourth-quarter earnings at the discount retailer.

The board, meanwhile, authorized repurchase of up to an additional $2 billion of stock. The current buyback program has about $225 million remaining. For the current fiscal year, it aims to repurchase $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion of its stock. TJX also plans to raise its quarterly dividend 21% to 11.5 cents a share. The move requires board approval.

TJX”the parent of T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods and Marshalls”has continued to appeal to budget-conscious consumers in the sluggish economy.

“With favorable weather patterns in February, comp store sales are trending toward a 7% increase for the month” said Chief Executive Carol Meyrowitz, referring to sales at stores open at least a year. “Inventories are lean as we begin the year, which positions us very well to flow fresh spring merchandise to our stores.”

For the quarter ended Jan. 28, profit jumped to $475.3 million, or 62 cents a share, from $334.4 million, or 42 cents a share, a year earlier. The year-earlier period included 11 cents in charges related to the closing of its A.J. Wright business. The latest results reflect its recent two-for-one stock split.

Revenue increased 6% to $6.71 billion. Gross margin was up at 27.2% from 26.3%.

The company recently reported that same-store sales rose 7%, including 6% at its domestic Marmaxx unit and 10% at its U.S. HomeGoods division.

For the new fiscal year, the company projected per-share earnings of $2.21 to $2.31. For the current quarter, the company forecast per-share earnings of 45 cents to 47 cents. Both projections are in line with what analysts have been estimating.

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