Lowe's Cos. Inc., the U.S.'s second-largest home improvement chain, reported a nearly 28-percent gain in its second-quarter earnings as homeowners caught up on spring projects delayed by cold and wet weather. The shares gained more than 6 percent.
The company posted a profit of U.S. $597 million, or $0.75 per share, for the quarter ended Aug. 1, up from $467 million, or $0.59 per share, in the same period a year ago.
Sales increased 17 percent to $8.77 billion, up from $7.49 billion in the year-ago quarter. Comparable store sales for the second quarter increased 6.9 percent.
"As we had expected, Americans' passion for home improvement projects surged as the weather improved across most of the U.S.," said Lowe's chairman and chief executive officer Bob Tillman.
Lowe's said it had "sales strength in every product category, including big-ticket items" as consumers returned to the hardware stores to catch up on projects.
"When customers returned to our stores following the cold and wet months that started the year, our employees delivered great service and the merchandise our customers wanted," said Lowe's president Robert Niblock.
On a conference call with analysts, Mr. Tillman said the chain was prepared to provide homeowners and contractors with the materials they needed to handle what he called "America's passion for improvement."
"The home improvement industry has benefited from this (refinancing boom), but it is not the single driver of our business," he said. "The recent increase in interest rates doesn't signal the end of our growth."
Spending on home improvement is expected to increase by about 5 percent annually over the next several years, he said. "As the economy strengthens, consumers will be more inclined to invest in their homes," Mr. Tillman said.
Looking forward, Lowe's said it expects to earn $2.24 to $2.27 a share for the year, ahead of analyst estimates of $2.19 per share. The company also expects a 16-percent increase in sales, and a 4-percent to 5-percent rise in comparable-store sales.
Lowe's opened 24 new stores during the second quarter, including two relocations, and closed one older, smaller store. Lowe's operates 896 stores in 45 states and plans to open 38 stores in the third quarter. (Reuters)
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