TJX Companies (TJX -0.23%) is ready for a big spring selling season. The off-price retailer just announced positive earnings results for the holiday shopping period that ended in late January. Sales are setting records again, and pricing is strong, management said in an SEC filing.
However, that good news was offset by a cloudier earnings picture, thanks to soaring expenses.
Let's take a closer look at three ways TJX is planning to keep growing in 2022.
1. TJX is still seeing strong demand
The company posted solid Q4 sales results, with comparable-store sales rising 10% across the business. The core TJ Maxx and Marshalls segment expanded by that same 10%, but the big standout was the HomeGoods banner, which focuses on house furnishings.
CEO Ernie Herrman called that performance "phenomenal," given that the growth came on top of significant gains a year ago. "Our shoppers responded to our amazing brands, excellent values, and inspiring treasure hunt shopping experience," Herrman said in a press release. Sales gains would have been higher, except for some temporary slowdowns caused by surges in the omicron variant later in Q4, executives said.
2. TJX stumbled a bit around costs
TJX didn't perform as well in handling the soaring costs that are impacting the wider industry. Gross profit margins rose thanks to higher prices, but that success was swamped by rising expenses.
The company paid far more for freight and labor while shelling out cash to bulk up its distribution network. These factors helped push pre-tax income down compared to last year, as well as contributed to a roughly 5 percentage-point drag on earnings.
Yet the core business looks primed for a quick rebound as these cost and temporary charges around COVID-19 spikes ease. "We are very confident in our goal of becoming an increasingly profitable, $60 billion-plus company," Herrman said.
3. Full-year guidance delayed, but short-term guidance looks good
The supply chain pressure isn't likely to let up in Q1, and uncertainty around expenses was enough to convince management to delay issuing a full-year earnings outlook.
The good news is that TJX still expects to grow sales at a robust clip this year, with comps rising by between 3% and 4% in the core U.S. market compared to a 17% spike in fiscal 2022. The chain also stocked up on inventory over the last few weeks, putting it in a great position to capitalize on apparel and home goods demand in the spring selling season.
The chain's 13% dividend boost highlights its strong financial picture just a few quarters after management was forced to temporarily pause the dividend. TJX's operations can now fund a rising payout, plus significant spending on stock buybacks and debt repayment.
Overall, there's a lot for investors to like about the retailer's business today. While the short-term earnings picture is weak, sales and cash flow trends suggest that it won't be long before TJX starts setting records again on profitability as it works toward management's long-term goal of adding about 20% to the annual global selling footprint.