Off-price retailer Ross Stores (ROST -0.08%) ended its 2019 fiscal year on a strong note, reporting solid growth for the holiday-season quarter that ended Feb. 1. However, management paired that good news with a conservative outlook for the year ahead.

A woman stands on an escalator in a mall.

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Comp sales at locations open for a year or more rose 4%. That significantly outpaced the target range that management had forecast a few months earlier. Ross Stores joined rival TJX Companies in announcing better holiday-period results than both Target and Walmart. "Our ongoing ability to offer compelling bargains to our customers enabled us to achieve these results," CEO Barbara Rentler said in a press release, "despite...a fiercely competitive holiday season."

Rentler and her team were pleased to announce expanding profitability and lean inventory growth, and those metrics both imply further gains ahead. However, executives cited economic, political, and global health uncertainties in issuing what they called a "cautious outlook."

To that end, the retailer is predicting that its comps will rise by between 1% and 2% in 2020 compared to 2019's 3% increase. Earnings are on pace to land between $4.67 per share and $4.88 per share, as compared to 2019's $4.60 per share haul.