Holiday demand powers T.J. Maxx owner's sales and profit beat, shares rise

(Reuters) - TJX Cos Inc TJX.N beat Wall Street expectations for sales and profit on Wednesday, as more customers flocked to the off-price retailer's T.J. Maxx and Marshalls' stores during the holiday shopping period.

FILE PHOTO: A T.J. Maxx store which is owned by TJX Cos Inc in Pasadena, California U.S., May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Shares of the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company were up 7.5% after TJX announced plans to buyback up to about $2.25 billion of its stock this year and raised its quarterly dividend by 13%.

New formats, better lighting, flooring and enhanced shelves at stores, and higher spending on marketing during the holidays paid off as the company recorded customer traffic growth across stores during and after the crucial shopping period.

“Our gift-giving assortments at great values, supported by our marketing, attracted customers around the globe during the holiday season and beyond,” Chief Executive Officer Ernie Herrman said.

Comparable-store sales rose 6% during the reported quarter, driven by strong sales at its Marmaxx and HomeGoods stores. Analysts on average had estimated growth of 3.03%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company, which has been investing in its online business and launched Marshalls’ website in September, said it would keep its online product mix different from its brick-and-mortar stores as an incentive for customers to shop from both channels.

“Q4 was another strong quarter for TJX, suggesting that the off-price format continues to gain share,” Bernstein analyst Jamie Merriman said.

But the company forecast its full-year profit largely below Wall Street estimates as it planned to continue investing in new stores, store remodels and its supply chain.

Rival Burlington Stores BURL.N, on the contrary, raised its fourth-quarter forecast earlier this month.

Net sales for TJX jumped nearly 10% to $12.21 billion, while net income rose 17% to $984.8 million, or 81 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 1.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 77 cents per share on net sales of $11.83 billion.

TJX’s shares were trading at a record high of $64.86.

Reporting by Aditi Sebastian in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Shinjini Ganguli