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TJ Maxx parent logs strong quarter on robust holiday traffic

By Anuja Bharat Mistry

(Reuters) -TJ Maxx parent TJX Cos surpassed market expectations for fourth-quarter results on Wednesday as budget-conscious shoppers flocked to the off-price retailer's stores in search of holiday deals on apparel, cosmetics and gift assortment.

With interest rates still high, discount retailers such as TJX and Ross Stores have tapped bargain-seeking consumer behavior to take market share from department stores like Macy's and Nordstrom, analysts have said.

"Off-price ... offers a much more compelling product assortment that is more consumer-centric than a department store, especially in Macy's," Jane Hali & Associates senior analyst Jessica Ramirez said.

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A day earlier, Macy's delivered a weaker annual forecast as the upscale retailer struggled with softer store traffic.

Overall comparable store sales at TJX rose 5% in the quarter, beating market expectations of 4.15%, with the company saying that was "entirely driven by increased customer transactions", indicating robust holiday spending.

However, it forecast fiscal 2025 comparable sales growth of 2% to 3%, below expectations for a 3.72% rise. It expects earnings per share of $3.94 to $4.02, compared with estimates of $4.11.

"TJX is being conservative because we are still in a very volatile time where the consumer continues to be pressured. They will be lapping a very strong 2023 as we go forward," Ramirez said.

Net sales for TJX's core Marmaxx segment in the U.S. grew 5% in the quarter, driven by demand for cosmetics and skincare products. Its HomeGoods segment rose 7%.

Its quarterly earnings per share of $1.22 came in above estimates of $1.12, aided by lower freight costs and inventory shrink expense.

TJX also announced a share buyback plan of up to $2.5 billion in fiscal 2025 and said it intends to raise its quarterly dividend in April by 13% to 375 cents per share.

Its shares were largely flat in early trading.

(Reporting by Anuja Bharat Mistry and Savyata Mishra and in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)