Lowe's closes in on Home Depot as earnings climb

Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) fourth quarter profit rose 6.3 percent to $11.7 billion as the home-improvement retailer continued to benefit from the housing market's recovery.

Lowe's is the second-largest home-improvement retailer in the U.S. behind Home Depot (NYSE: HD), which reported Tuesday that its revenues were headed in the other direction, down 3 percent to $17.7 billion.

Lowe's earnings matched analysts' estimates as the retailer drew in consumers throughout the critical holiday shopping season. Same-store sales were up 4.8 percent on the year and 3.9 percent in the fourth quarter. Looking ahead, the company foresees fiscal 2014 earnings of about $56.1 billion, up 5 percent from last year's $53.4 billion. The company also said it plans to open approximately 15 home improvement stores and five neighborhood hardware stores.

The earnings follow another upbeat report in the home improvement retail market, following news that Home Depot's earnings topped analysts' estimates, making it the sixth year in a row of meeting or exceeding Wall Street predictions. And the home improvement market shows no signs of slowing down. The U.S. Department of Commerce on Wednesday said that U.S. sales of new homes rebounded in January at the fastest pace in more than five years. That's a good sign that both Lowe's and Home Depot will see a continued interest from consumers in home remodeling efforts.

For more:
-See this Lowe's earnings statement 
-See this Wall Street Journal article

Related stories:
Home Depot reports strongest same-store growth in 14 years
Home Depot posts strong third-quarter results, beats estimates
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Home Depot hit with $150,000 in fines for Ohio store

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