* Q4 comp store sales up 3 pct vs. est 2.6 pct rise
* Q4 revenue $9.47 bln vs est $9.44 bln
* Forecasts 2018 comp store sales growth to be 1-2 pct
* Raises qtrly dividend by 20 pct to 3.25 cents/shr (Adds analysts’ comments, Q4 details; updates shares)
By Gayathree Ganesan
Feb 22 (Reuters) - TJX Cos Inc, the operator of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores, reported better-than-expected profit and comparable store sales, as its discounted offerings attracted shoppers during the holiday season.
TJX and other off-price retailers have been growing quickly as bargain-hungry shoppers turn away from department stores and other mall-based chains.
Framingham, Massachusetts-based TJX sells apparel and accessories, including brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and Versace, at prices ranging from 20 percent to 60 percent below those at other retailers.
GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders termed the company’s quarterly performance as “impressive,” given the maturity of TJX’s Marmaxx and Marshalls concepts.
The discount chain reported a 3 percent rise in comparable store sales in the three months ended Jan. 28, beating analysts’ estimate of a rise of 2.6 percent.
Comparable store sales in the company’s Marmaxx unit, which includes T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores, also handily beat estimates, according to analysts polled by research firm Consensus Metrix.
TJX posted a 5.6 percent rise in sales to $9.47 billion, beating the Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimate of $9.44 billion.
Saunders noted that the sales beat came despite competition in off-price increasing: both from existing retailers like Macy’s Inc, which has opened its own discount stores, and from a rise in online resale marketplaces.
“Despite the market becoming more crowded, we remain confident about TJX’s dominant position.” Saunders said.
The company’s forecast, however, was cautions, analysts said.
TJX said it expects same-store sales to grow in the range of 1-2 percent in the current year.
In the first quarter, it expects those sales to be flat to up 1 percent, compared with a 7 percent rise in the year-ago period.
“They always guide conservatively and then they beat and rise. That has been their track record for at least the last five years,” Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough told Reuters.
Excluding certain items, the company earned $1.03 per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of $1.00, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company also said it would raise its dividend by 20 percent to 31.25 cents per share and repurchase $1.3 billion to $1.8 billion worth of shares during this fiscal year.
Shares of the company were marginally down at $75.97 in late morning trading on Wednesday. (Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)