Shares of Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST) gapped up prior to trading on Friday following a stronger than expected earnings report. The stock had previously closed at $63.34, but opened at $65.53. Ross Stores shares last traded at $68.00, with a volume of 6,998,999 shares.

The apparel retailer reported $0.62 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.56 by $0.06. Ross Stores had a return on equity of 42.54% and a net margin of 8.58%. The business earned $3.10 billion during the quarter. During the same period last year, the firm earned $0.53 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 10.9% on a year-over-year basis.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, December 30th. Investors of record on Wednesday, December 7th will be paid a dividend of $0.135 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, December 5th. This represents a $0.54 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.79%. Ross Stores’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 19.85%.

A number of equities research analysts recently commented on the company. Telsey Advisory Group lifted their price objective on Ross Stores from $68.00 to $70.00 and gave the stock a “market perform” rating in a research note on Friday. Wedbush reiterated an “outperform” rating and set a $71.00 target price (up from $67.00) on shares of Ross Stores in a report on Friday. RBC Capital Markets lifted their target price on Ross Stores from $65.00 to $68.00 and gave the stock a “sector perform” rating in a report on Friday. Royal Bank Of Canada lifted their target price on Ross Stores from $65.00 to $68.00 and gave the stock a “sector perform” rating in a report on Friday. Finally, Jefferies Group lifted their target price on Ross Stores to $59.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Friday. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have assigned a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $65.92.

In related news, CEO Barbara Rentler sold 12,840 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, September 22nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.76, for a total transaction of $818,678.40. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 542,851 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $34,612,179.76. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, Director Gregory L. Quesnel sold 16,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $64.39, for a total value of $1,030,240.00. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 19,370 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,247,234.30. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 2.40% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in ROST. Dividend Assets Capital LLC boosted its stake in Ross Stores by 11,841.5% in the second quarter. Dividend Assets Capital LLC now owns 892,030 shares of the apparel retailer’s stock valued at $50,569,000 after buying an additional 884,560 shares during the last quarter. Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. Ltd. boosted its stake in Ross Stores by 2.2% in the second quarter. Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. Ltd. now owns 643,096 shares of the apparel retailer’s stock valued at $36,457,000 after buying an additional 14,096 shares during the last quarter. Bristol Gate Capital Partners Inc. boosted its stake in Ross Stores by 17.4% in the second quarter. Bristol Gate Capital Partners Inc. now owns 508,730 shares of the apparel retailer’s stock valued at $28,840,000 after buying an additional 75,398 shares during the last quarter. Cidel Asset Management Inc. boosted its stake in Ross Stores by 2.9% in the second quarter. Cidel Asset Management Inc. now owns 201,723 shares of the apparel retailer’s stock valued at $11,436,000 after buying an additional 5,708 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Redwood Investments LLC boosted its stake in Ross Stores by 3.8% in the second quarter. Redwood Investments LLC now owns 331,029 shares of the apparel retailer’s stock valued at $18,766,000 after buying an additional 12,142 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 89.27% of the company’s stock.

The firm has a 50 day moving average of $63.60 and a 200-day moving average of $59.95. The firm has a market capitalization of $26.97 billion, a PE ratio of 25.89 and a beta of 0.94.

About Ross Stores

Ross Stores, Inc is an off-price retailer of name brand and designer apparel, accessories, footwear, and home fashions for the entire family. The Company operates two brands of off-price retail apparel and home fashion stores, Ross Dress for Less (Ross) and dd’s DISCOUNTS. As of December 31, 2014, the Company operated 1,210 Ross locations in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, and 152 dd’s DISCOUNTS stores in 15 states.

5 Day Chart for NASDAQ:ROST

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