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TJX key rev. figure falls 2 pct in March

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) -- The parent company of TJ Maxx and Marshalls stores said Thursday its March revenue at stores open at least a year fell 2 percent. The discount retailer cold weather and a timing shift in the Easter holiday.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a decrease of 1 percent. The metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes revenue from stores that recently opened or closed.

TJX Cos., which also runs HomeGoods and some other stores, said that overall sales for the five weeks that ended April 6 rose 5 percent to $2.4 billion from $2.3 billion a year earlier.

For the nine weeks that ended April 6, the company said its revenue at stores open at least a year fell 1 percent. Total sales rose 6 percent to $4.2 billion.

CEO Carol Meyrowitz said that as a result of the timing of Easter, the company didn't expect March to be a strong month compared with its year-ago results. She noted that the March decrease in revenue at stores open at least a year fell within the company's expected range, despite unusually cold weather in many parts of the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Meyrowitz noted that in regions where cold weather wasn't an issue, comparable sales rose and that overall sales started to pick up as the weather became warmer.

Citing profitability improvements, the company narrowed its first-quarter earnings prediction to a range of 60 cents to 62 cents per share. TJX previously projected a profit of between 59 cents and 62 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expect earnings of 62 cents per share.

TJX has 1,044 T.J. Maxx, 909 Marshalls, 423 HomeGoods and 4 Sierra Trading Post stores in the U.S.; 225 Winners, 89 HomeSense and 21 Marshalls stores in Canada, along with 348 T.K. Maxx and 24 HomeSense stores in Europe.

The company's shares fell $1, or 2 percent, to $46.50 in premarket trading.