A rare miss for TJX: No sales gain for key measure
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 M - Macy's Inc
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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) — Even the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls is feeling some retail pain.

TJX Cos., which also operates HomeGoods stores, said Tuesday that revenue at established stores was flat in the third quarter compared to a year ago — the first time it didn't post an increase since 2009. Analysts were expecting a gain, and the company's shares fell 4 percent. CEO and President Ernie L. Herrman blamed the sluggish performance on the severe hurricanes that struck Florida and Texas, as well as some fashion misses.

The company, known for its discounts on name-brand merchandise, has been a bright spot in retail since the Great Recession and has attracted shoppers away from mall-based stores as it expands and offers more up-to-date products. It now has about 4,000 stores with annual sales of $33.1 billion, compared to just under 2,800 stores with $21.9 billion in sales six years ago.

Because the off-price concept has been more successful, traditional department stores like Macy's are testing the idea as they look to bolster sales, but they're also cutting their number of stores as they see customer counts fall.

TJX is looking for new growth opportunities, adding stores and opening a new chain called HomeSense. So far, it has three HomeSense stores in the U.S. Herrman says the initial customer reaction has been "outstanding."

The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $641.4 million, or $1 per share. That compares with $549.7 million, or 83 cents per share, in the year-ago period. The results matched Wall Street expectations.

TJX posted revenue of $8.76 billion, short of Wall Street forecasts. That compares with $8.29 billion in the year-ago period. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $8.88 billion.

For the quarter ending in January, TJX expects earnings per share of $1.14 to $1.16. Analysts surveyed by Zacks had forecast adjusted earnings per share of $1.27. The company expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.80 to $3.82 per share.

In Tuesday trading, TJX's shares fell $3.15 to $67.61.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on TJX at https://www.zacks.com/ap/TJX