Shares of TJX Companies (TJX 1.30%) fell 4% on Nov. 21 after the off-price retailer reported mixed third-quarter earnings. Its revenue rose 12% annually to $9.8 billion, beating estimates by $330 million. Its comparable-store sales rose 7%, crushing the consensus forecast of 4.1%.

On the bottom line, TJX's adjusted earnings -- which exclude a one-time tax benefit and a pension charge -- grew 8% to $0.54 per share but missed expectations by $0.07. Its GAAP earnings jumped 22% to $0.61 per share.

A group of young shoppers.

Image source: Getty Images.

For the fourth quarter, TJX expects its comps to go up 2% to 3% but for adjusted earnings to decline 3% to 5% on higher expenses. For the full year, the forecast is for comps to grow 5% and for adjusted earnings to spike 8%.

TJX might not seem like a compelling buy based on those numbers alone. But if we take a closer look, we'll see four clear reasons to buy this stock after its post-earnings dip.

1. A built-to-last business model

TJX's off-price retail chains -- Marmaxx (T.J. Maxx and Marshalls), HomeGoods, TJX Canada, and TJX International (Europe and Australia) -- all sell brand-name products at lower prices than (AMZN -0.68%). TJX accomplishes this by buying off-season or clearance products from over 20,000 vendors in more than 100 countries.

That scale gives TJX tremendous bargaining power in bulk purchases, and it actually benefits from Amazon's growth because many "Amazoned" retailers liquidate their goods at low prices. The unpredictable layout of TJX's stores also encourages shoppers to "treasure hunt" through its selection of rapidly rotated products.

TJX's unique business model enables it to keep growing its comps and opening new stores as other retailers reduce their brick-and-mortar footprints. It opened 102 new stores during the third quarter, bringing its total store count to 4,296. It's already generated 22 straight years of annual comps growth, and that growth should accelerate as other brick-and-mortar retailers close.

A woman carries shopping bags.

Image source: Getty Images.

2. Rock-solid growth

TJX's only meaningful competitor is Ross Stores (ROST 1.20%), but TJX posted much stronger comps growth than Ross over the past two quarters.





TJX (FY 2019)




Ross (FY 2018)




Comps growth. Data source: Company quarterly reports.

During the third quarter, all of TJX's core banners posted impressive comps growth compared to the prior year.


Q3 2018

Q3 2019







TJX Canada



TJX International






Comps growth. Data source: TJX Q3 report.

3. Margin concerns should be temporary

TJX's top-line growth looks solid, but gross margin fell 90 basis points annually to 28.9% on higher freight costs, wage hikes (particularly in Canada), supply chain expenses, and an unfavorable year-over-year comparison related to its inventory hedges.

Its pre-tax profit margin of 11%, which excludes the aforementioned pension charge, also represents a drop from 11.6% a year earlier. Those declines were disappointing, but TJX's margins should stabilize after it absorbs those expenses. That margin compression also shouldn't be confused with the plight of other retailers, which often crush their own margins with big markdowns to boost store traffic and sales.

4. A low valuation and a decent dividend

I've been bullish on TJX in the past, but I've also warned that the stock seemed pricey after its second-quarter earnings report in August.

However, TJX's 15% slide over the past two months makes the stock more attractive. At $47, it trades at just 17 times next year's GAAP earnings estimate, and it pays a forward dividend yield of 1.5%. TJX has raised its dividend annually for over two decades, and its forward payout ratio of less than 30% indicates that it has plenty of room for future hikes.

Buy the dip... carefully

While TJX's core business should continue to flourish over the next few years, investors should note that fears about tariffs (which TJX has yet to address), softness in other brick-and-mortar retailers, and higher expenses could weigh down the stock for now.

Nonetheless, I think investors who start a small position in TJX now -- and buy more shares if it tumbles some more -- could be well rewarded over the long term as it remains one of the last retailers standing in the aftermath of the "retail apocalypse."