Ross Stores raises outlook on March sales growth

PLEASANTON, Calif. (AP) -- Discount retailer Ross Stores Inc. said Thursday that it will likely surpass its profit forecast for the current quarter after better-than-expected March sales.

Shares jumped more than 4 percent in premarket trading.

For the five weeks through Saturday, revenue at locations open at least a year rose 2 percent. The company had expected the metric to fall 1 to 2 percent, and analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a decline of 1 percent.

Revenue at stores open at least a year is considered an important measurement of retailer performance because it excludes results from locations that have opened or closed within the last year.

Total sales for March grew 6 percent to $1.04 billion.

Because of that sales growth, Ross Stores expects its net income for its fiscal first quarter, which ends May 4, to top its previous forecast of $1 to $1.04 per share. Analysts predict profit of $1.04 per share, according to FactSet.

The company maintained its outlook for revenue at stores open at least a year to grow 5 to 6 percent in April.

Shares of Ross Stores advanced $2.51, or 4.2 percent, to $62.75 before the market opened Thursday. Shares are up 11 percent in 2013.