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TJX's financial strength and flexibility have always been cornerstones of our success and give us great confidence in our ability to succeed in many kinds of economic and retail cycles. We have a consistent history of generating enormous amounts of cash through our strong operations and have delivered superior financial returns that are among the highest in retail. We operate with a low cost structure and are extremely focused on returns on investment. We have an “A” Standard & Poor’s credit rating, one of the strongest in the retail industry, and ample financial liquidity, which offers our vendors, landlords and other business associates a high degree of confidence. Our tremendous cash flow has allowed us to simultaneously invest in the growth of our business while returning value to shareholders. We deploy our excess cash with a careful balance between maintaining our flexibility, reinvesting in the growth of our businesses and redistributing cash to our shareholders through our share repurchase and dividend programs.
In 2012, we plan to continue our balanced approach to managing cash. We are increasing our capital spending budget to $875 million - $900 million to support our growth, including investments in our supply chain and infrastructure, new stores and store remodels, and our e-commerce initiative. Simultaneously, we plan to continue our significant share buyback program, with $1.2 billion - $1.3 billion of repurchases planned in 2012. Through our substantial share buyback program, we have repurchased over $10 billion of TJX stock since 1997.* We increased the quarterly per-share dividend by 21% over the prior dividend in April 2012, the 16th consecutive year of a dividend increase. Further, in early 2012, we split the stock two-for-one. These actions underscore our confidence in the continued profitable growth of our business and our ongoing commitment to shareholder cash distributions. On top of all of this, we expect to end 2012 with approximately $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion in cash. With our strong financial foundation and cash flow, we believe we are very well positioned to continue growing our business, capitalizing on opportunities, and returning value to shareholders within ever-changing business climates.
*As of Q4 FY12