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Ross 1Q results show desire for deals still strong

PLEASANTON, Calif. (AP) -- Ross Stores Inc.'s fiscal first-quarter revenue came in ahead of market expectations as consumers continued to show a desire for a deal.

The discount retailer reported the results Thursday, issued a strong forecast for its second quarter and increased its full-year forecast.

The Pleasanton, Calif., company's net income increased to $234.6 million, or $1.07 per share, for three months ended May 4, from $208.6 million, or 93 cents per share, in the 2012 first quarter. That met analysts' average forecast for $1.07 per share for the period, according to FactSet.

Ross's total revenue increased to $2.54 billion from $2.36 billion; analysts had forecast $2.53 billion.

The company said that its revenue from stores open at least a year increased 3 percent. This is considered a key indicator of financial performance for retailers, because it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores.

Ross CEO Michael Balmuth said the quarter's results were driven by the bargains the chain offers to value-oriented consumers. The company also benefited from improved gross margins on merchandise and a favorable timing of expenses, he said.

The company expects to earn between 89 and 93 cents per share for its second quarter; analysts were anticipating 91 cents per share.

Ross also increased its full-year forecast, saying it expects earnings between $3.70 and $3.81 per share for the year. That's up from its prior guidance of $3.65 to $3.80 per share. Analysts are anticipating earnings of $3.88 per share.

Shares of the company added 19 cents to $65.27 in after-hours trading following the release. Its stock dropped 12 cents to close regular trading at $65.08.