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Inventory Control, Discounts Propel TJX Profits Up 45.6%

Keeping a close eye on inventory and costs and offering shoppers the promise of branded goods at inexpensive prices, off-price giant TJX Cos. Inc. drove up its bottom and top lines in the fourth quarter.

Keeping a close eye on inventory and costs and offering shoppers the promise of branded goods at inexpensive prices, off-price giant TJX Cos. Inc. drove up its bottom and top lines in the fourth quarter.

Profits leapt 45.6 percent to $301.1 million, or 66 cents a diluted share, for the three months ended Jan. 26. This compared with $205.5 million, or 43 cents, a year earlier. Sales at the firm's 2,563 stores grew 7.7 percent to $5.49 billion from $5.1 billion, with comparable-store sales up 4 percent.

Looking back at 2007, president and chief executive officer Carol Meyrowitz emphasized control as key to the financial success of the firm, which operates T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and other nameplates.

"We were extremely disciplined in managing inventories, which gave us the ability to buy into current trends," said Meyrowitz.

TJX closed out the quarter with inventory worth $2.7 billion, a $100 million increase from a year earlier.

"[Fourth-quarter] results reinforce the notion that TJX's off-price model appears well positioned in today's challenging spending environment," said Adrianne Shapira, equity analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co., in a research note. "Over the medium term, investors will likely continue to pay up for this 'macro-insulated investment' status."
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