Home Depot reports strongest same-store growth in 14 years

Home Depot (NYSE: HD) reported a solid fourth quarter today as two years of rising housing prices continue to prompt big spending on home remodeling.

The retailer's earnings topped analysts' estimates, making it the sixth year in a row of meeting or exceeding Wall Street predictions.

Home Depot reported a healthy rise in same-store sales for the fourth quarter of 4.4 percent, and comp sales for U.S. stores were up 4.9 percent. The company said this is the strongest comp sales growth in 14 years.

Net earnings for the chain were nearly flat at $1.01 billion compared to last year's $1.02 billion. As many retailers are reporting, bad weather affected sales during December and January, and the retailer saw a 3 percent dip in sales to $17.70 billion, compared to last year's $18.25 billion. Total revenue was also hurt by one less week in the latest quarter.

The Atlanta-based chain also said that the average ticket rose slightly by 1.1 percent, another indication that customers are still opening their wallets for home improvement projects. In January, a shortage of houses on the market pushed U.S. home resales to an 18-month low, but since more people tend to start remodeling projects in the spring, Home Depot could very well overcome the housing market slide in the coming months.

Home Depot was also successful at trimming costs by 4 percent in the quarter. Going forward, the company says it plans to continue reducing its expenses with more centralized distribution centers. 

For more:
-See this Home Depot press release
-See this Wall Street Journal article

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