Slight Home Improvement

Lowe's and Home Depot both report middling quarterly results
Posted November 14, 2000

While The Home Depot (Atlanta) was reporting a 13 percent increase in net earnings for the third quarter of fiscal 2000, arch-rival Lowe's (Wilkesboro, N.C.) was reporting a 20 percent increase in net income for the quarter. But both announced disappointing same-store sales.

Lowe's overall results met analysts'predictions, but flat same-store sales missed the mark. They had been expected to increase between 4 and 6 percent. The company, which operates 624 stores in 40 states, cited low lumber prices and weaker consumer spending. And Lowe's has been further hurt by three consecutive quarters of poor same-store sales at Eagle Hardware & Garden Inc., a 41-store chain originally based in Renton, Wash., that Lowe's had purchased earlier.

Home Depot's comparable store sales rise of 4 percent was also disappointing, as the retailer complained as well of deflation in lumber and building materials retail pricing. In addition, sales a year ago had been boosted by hurricane-related activity in September and by Y2K-related concerns. The company warned that many of the same factors affecting sales in the third quarter will negatively impact sales in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2000.

During the quarter, The Home Depot opened 52 new stores and reopened one store. At the end of the quarter, it operated a total of 1,064 stores with an aggregate of approximately 115 million square feet of selling space. The stores included 968 Home Depot stores, 21 EXPO Design Centers and three Villager's Hardware stores in the United States; 63 Home Depot stores in Canada; four Home Depot stores in Chile; two Home Depot stores in Argentina; two Home Depot stores in Puerto Rico, and a test format, The Home Depot Floor Store, in Plano, Texas.