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Ross Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST)

February 2013 Sales Pre-Recorded Conference

March 07, 2013 8:30 am ET

Executives

John G. Call - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer, Group Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary

John G. Call

Good morning. Welcome to this Ross Stores pre-recorded message that contains additional information on our February sales release issued on Thursday, March 7, 2013. This is John Call, the company's Chief Financial Officer. This recording will be available until 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, March 8. In addition, a written transcript will be available in the Investors section of the company's website at www.rossstores.com.

As a reminder, today's press release and the recorded comments and transcript on our website contain forward-looking statements regarding expected sales, earnings levels and other financial results in future periods that are subject to risks and uncertainties, which could cause our actual results to differ materially from management's current expectations. The words plan, expect, target, anticipate, estimate, believe, forecast, projected, guidance, looking ahead and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Risk factors for Ross Dress for Less and dd’s DISCOUNTS are set forth in our SEC filings, including, without limitation, the Form 10-K for fiscal 2011 and Form 10-Qs and 8-Ks for fiscal 2012 and 2013.

For the 4 weeks ended March 2, 2013, sales grew 3% to $726 million from $707 million for the 4 weeks ended March 3, 2012. Comparable store sales for the 4 weeks ended March 2, 2013, declined 1% versus the same period last year. This compared to a strong gain of 9% for the 4 weeks ended February 25, 2012.

Juniors and Accessories were the strongest merchandise categories in the month, while Texas was our top-performing geographic area.

At the end of February, average in-store inventories were down about 5%, while total consolidated inventories were up about 9% from the prior year. Packaway was approximately 45% of consolidated inventories at month end compared to 46% last year.

As noted in our press release, we believe the slight decline in February same-store sales was mainly due to the delay in income tax refunds, while sales -- with sales improving as the month progressed. We continue to forecast same-store sales in March and April to be down 1% to 2% and up 5% to 6%, respectively. This monthly guidance reflects the shift in the Easter holiday and is on top of last year's robust same-store sales gains of 10% in March and 7% in April.

We also continue to project earnings per share for the 13 weeks ending May 4, 2013, of $1 to $1.04, up from $0.93 for the 13 weeks ended April 28, 2012.

We plan to report fourth quarter and fiscal year 2012 earnings results on Thursday, March 21, and March 2013 sales results on Thursday, April 11.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call Michael Hartshorn, Senior Vice President and Deputy Chief Financial Officer at (925) 965-4503 or Connie Wong, Director of Investor Relations at (925) 965-4668. Thank you.

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