TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX), the retailer behind off-price franchises including TJ Maxx and Marshalls, on Wednesday reported strong sales growth for the fiscal fourth quarter. The company paired that good news with a big increase in its annual dividend.

A couple shopping in a mall.

Image source: Getty Images.

What happened?

Sales growth landed at 6% for the period that encompasses the peak shopping weeks around Christmas. That result was about twice management's projected increase and it lifted the retailer well above peers like Target and Walmart , which grew at about 2% at the end of 2019.

In a press release, CEO Ernie Herrman credited the company's wide selection of discounted apparel and home goods for delivering increased market share . "Our exciting brands and gift-giving assortments at great values...attracted customers around the globe during the holiday season and beyond," Herrman said.

Looking forward

TJX Companies is projecting another year of sales and earnings growth ahead, along with increasing direct cash returns. The company plans to spend about $2 billion on stock buybacks compared to $1.5 billion in 2019. Management also hiked the dividend payout by 13% to mark its 24th consecutive annual raise. One more raise, which should happen in early 2021, and the retailer will qualify as a Dividend Aristocrat.