November 20, 2018 / 1:47 PM / in 24 days

UPDATE 2-TJX's holiday profit forecast disappoints as freight costs bite

(Updates shares, adds details on full-year forecast)

Nov 20 (Reuters) - TJX Cos Inc's holiday-quarter earnings forecast fell largely below analysts' estimates on Tuesday, as the off-price clothing retailer faces rising freight and labor costs.

Several retailers have warned that a shortage of truck drivers, new driver regulations and higher fuel prices would make moving freight much costlier this year.

The company expects that higher expenses during the current quarter to cut profits by 5 percent, resulting in adjusted earnings of 56 cents to 57 cents per share. Analysts on average were expecting 71 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

TJX is facing tough competition not just from online retailers but also from Macy's and Nordstrom, which have been offering more in-store discounts.

TJX stores as a result are expected to see lower traffic, analysts say.

The company on Tuesday raised its full-year adjusted profit forecast to around $2.08 to $2.09 per share, but that too was below analysts' average estimate of $2.47.

Shares of TJX fell 1.2 percent to $48.38, recouping some losses after a 7 percent fall in premarket trading.

The tepid forecasts come despite a 7 percent rise in comparable-store sales in the third quarter ended Nov. 3, above the 4.1 percent Wall Street had estimated.

Unlike other brick-and-mortar retailers, which have closed stores and invested in e-commerce as shoppers move online, TJX has largely depended on deep in-store discounts to drive traffic.

The company entices shoppers with its treasure-hunt format in stores, encouraging shoppers to hunt for deals across a swath of products and brands.

Net income rose to $762.3 million or 61 cents per share, from $641.4 million or 50 cents per share a year earlier.

The company's net sales climbed 12.2 percent to $9.83 billion, beating analysts' expectations of $9.49 billion.

TJX's smaller rival Ross Stores' fourth-quarter forecast for same-store sales on Tuesday was also below analysts' estimates, due to a fiercely competitive retail environment. (Reporting by Soundarya J in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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