Appliance and home improvement retailer Lowe's Companies, Inc. reported net earnings of U.S. $452 million for the quarter ended Oct. 31, 2003, a 33.3-percent increase over the same period a year ago.
Diluted earnings per share increased 30.2 percent to $0.56 from $0.43 in the third quarter of 2002. For the 9 months ended Oct. 31, 2003, net earnings grew 27.5 percent to $1.47 billion while diluted earnings per share increased 26.9 percent to $1.84.
Sales for the quarter increased 23.5 percent to $7.92 billion, up from $6.41 billion in the third quarter of 2002. Comparable store sales for the third quarter increased by 12.4 percent. For the 9 months ended Oct. 31, 2003, sales increased 17.4 percent to $23.9 billion. Comparable store sales increased 6.5 percent in the first 9 months of 2003.
"We achieved the strongest comparable store sales growth in Lowe's modern history as a result of our many internal sales and operational initiatives," said Robert L. Tillman, Lowe's chairman and CEO. "We've experienced balanced performance across all of our product categories and across all regions of the country as American consumers remain committed to enhancing the enjoyment of their homes. That commitment is readily apparent in the results our stores have delivered this year," Mr. Tillman continued.
Lowe's President Robert A. Niblock added: "Our robust sales results clearly reflect the focus and discipline of our stores and highlight the flexibility of Lowe's centralized model to drive sales in an increasingly strong economic environment. Our employees excelled during this above-plan sales environment and continued to ensure customer service is our top priority. Additionally, our logistics and distribution infrastructure allowed us to effectively manage inventory and keep our stores in stock with the great merchandise our customers desire."
During the quarter, Lowe's opened 38 new stores, including two relocations. As of Oct. 31, 2003, Lowe's operated 932 stores in 45 states representing 103.7 million sq ft of retail selling space, a 14.2-percent increase over last year.
Lowe's business outlook for the fourth quarter includes the following:
The company expects to open 47 stores reflecting square footage growth of approximately 15 percent.
Total sales are expected to increase 18 to 19 percent.
The company expects to report comparable store sales of 6 to 7 percent.
Operating margin (defined as gross margin less SG&A and depreciation) is expected to be flat to slightly positive as a percent to sales.
Store opening costs are expected to be approximately $49 million.
Diluted earnings per share of $0.48 to $0.49 are expected.
Lowe's fourth quarter ends on Jan. 30, 2004 with operating results to be publicly released on Feb. 23, 2004.
Lowe's business outlook for Fiscal Year 2003 (comparisons to fiscal year 2002) includes the following:
The company expects to open 130 stores in 2003 reflecting total square footage growth of approximately 15 percent.
Total sales are expected to increase approximately 18 percent for the year.
The company expects to report a comparable store sales increase of 6 to 7 percent.
Operating margin (defined as gross margin less SG&A and depreciation) is expected to increase approximately 50 basis points.
Store opening costs are expected to be approximately $132 million.
Diluted earnings per share of $2.32 to $2.33 are expected for the fiscal year ending Jan. 30, 2004.
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