Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Friday morning.
According to Zacks, “Ross Stores outperformed the industry in the past six months given its positive record of earnings and sales surprises in the trailing seven quarters. In fourth-quarter fiscal 2017, both the top and bottom lines topped estimates and improved year over year. Solid top line growth, lower SG&A expense and improved operating margin aided bottom line growth. Meanwhile, sales growth was driven by broad-based strength across major merchandise categories. Further, the company’s commitment toward better price management, merchandise, cost containment and store expansion plan bode well. However, the company expects witnessing challenging comparisons and a competitive retail backdrop, which led it to provide a cautious view for fiscal 2018. Despite strong earnings and sales targets, it projects soft operating margin for the first quarter and fiscal 2018 due to soft merchandise margin and the impact of competitive wage and benefit-related investments.”
A number of other equities analysts have also issued reports on ROST. Telsey Advisory Group reissued a buy rating on shares of Ross Stores in a report on Friday, November 17th. SunTrust Banks set a $80.00 price objective on shares of Ross Stores and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Friday, November 17th. Royal Bank of Canada restated a sector perform rating and issued a $70.00 price objective (up previously from $62.00) on shares of Ross Stores in a research report on Friday, November 17th. Morgan Stanley raised their price objective on shares of Ross Stores from $70.00 to $77.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research report on Friday, November 17th. Finally, Nomura set a $80.00 price objective on shares of Ross Stores and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Friday, November 17th. Nine equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and sixteen have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Ross Stores currently has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $80.86.
Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, March 6th. The apparel retailer reported $0.98 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.93 by $0.05. Ross Stores had a return on equity of 44.53% and a net margin of 9.64%. The firm had revenue of $4.07 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.95 billion. analysts expect that Ross Stores will post 4.03 EPS for the current year.
Ross Stores announced that its board has initiated a share buyback plan on Tuesday, March 6th that authorizes the company to buyback $200.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the apparel retailer to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are generally an indication that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.
The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 30th. Stockholders of record on Monday, March 19th will be given a dividend of $0.225 per share. This represents a $0.90 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.17%. This is an increase from Ross Stores’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.16. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, March 16th. Ross Stores’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 18.03%.
Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Cerebellum GP LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Ross Stores during the 4th quarter valued at approximately $132,000. Sit Investment Associates Inc. lifted its position in shares of Ross Stores by 255.1% during the 4th quarter. Sit Investment Associates Inc. now owns 1,900 shares of the apparel retailer’s stock valued at $152,000 after acquiring an additional 1,365 shares during the period. Harvest Fund Management Co. Ltd acquired a new stake in shares of Ross Stores during the 4th quarter valued at approximately $159,000. Financial Gravity Companies Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Ross Stores during the 4th quarter valued at approximately $164,000. Finally, Zions Bancorporation lifted its position in shares of Ross Stores by 338.9% during the 3rd quarter. Zions Bancorporation now owns 2,120 shares of the apparel retailer’s stock valued at $137,000 after acquiring an additional 1,637 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 88.60% of the company’s stock.
Ross Stores Company Profile
Ross Stores, Inc and its subsidiaries operate two brands of off-price retail apparel and home fashion stores-Ross Dress for Less (Ross) and dd’s DISCOUNTS. The Company is the off-price apparel and home fashion chain in the United States, with 1,340 locations in 36 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, as of January 28, 2017.
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