Ross Stores 4Q16 Earnings Call Notes

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Barbara Rentler

Uncertainty, remain cautious

“As we look ahead to 2017, there continues to be a great deal of uncertainty in the political, macroeconomic, and retail climates. In addition, we face tough prior year sales and earnings comparisons. As a result, while we hope to do better, we believe it is prudent to remain somewhat cautious in planning our business for the coming year. Nevertheless, we are confident that the off-price sector will remain a strong performing segment of retail especially given consumers’ continued focus on value.”

Michael B. O’Sullivan – Ross Stores, Inc.

Store closing negative at first, then positive

And, Paul, on your question about store closures, it’s difficult to respond to specifically, the Macy’s example that you gave, specifically how that affected our stores. There’s just too much noise to pick out the effect of those individual store closures. What I would say, though, is in general, with store closures, competitor store closures, there’s a short term effect which is as that competitor store is doing and going out of business now, that can impact our business negatively for the weeks of that happening. But then, obviously once that store is closed, there’s one less competitor in the market. So in general, it tends to be a good thing for us in the medium- to long-term.

Supply driven by other retailers’ poor inventory decisions

Yeah, that’s always a concern. We’re always concerned about supply. But one point Barbara had made a little while ago is that what really drives supply is other retailers and their inability to forecast their own sales. And if they’re not able to forecast their own sales, that tends to mean there’s greater supply availability, so.

Michael J. Hartshorn – Ross Stores, Inc.

Weather more important than Easter

Mike, I think historically weather has had a more meaningful impact on performance during the first quarter than the timing of Easter, which is what we’ve seen in the past