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Home Depot 4Q net income climbs on sales spike

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[February 21, 2012]  ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) -- Home Depot Inc.'s fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 32 percent as homeowners spent more on renovation projects and mild weather in the U.S. helped results surpass expectations.

HardwareShares rose 3 percent in premarket trading.

Home-goods sellers like Home Depot and others are facing cautious consumer spending and prolonged weakness in the housing market. They've had to adjust to fewer consumers making large-scale home renovations by cutting costs and improving services such as online shopping and customer service.

But Home Depot's sales increase shows there may be some pent-up demand for home improvement, even during the winter.

"We had a strong finish to 2011, and with favorable weather, our business delivered results that exceeded our expectations," Chairman and CEO Frank Blake said in a statement.

The largest U.S. home-improvement company reported Tuesday that it earned $774 million, or 50 cents per share, for the period ended Jan. 29. That's up from $587 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier.

The earnings topped the 42 cents per share that analysts surveyed by FactSet expected.

Home Depot's stock added 20 cents to $46.91 in premarket trading

Quarterly revenue increased 6 percent to $16.01 billion from $15.13 billion, beating Wall Street's $15.5 billion estimate.

Revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 5.7 percent, with the figure rising 6.1 percent for U.S. stores.

This metric is a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Home Depot managed its costs well in the quarter, as cost of sales climbed slightly to $10.42 billion from $9.88 billion. Total operating expenses edged up to $4.27 billion from $4.21 billion.

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For fiscal 2011, Home Depot's earnings increased 16 percent to $3.88 billion, or $2.47 per share, from $3.34 billion, or $2.10 per share, in the prior year.

Annual revenue rose 4 percent to $70.4 billion from $68 billion.

The Atlanta company projected fiscal 2012 earnings of about $2.79 per share, after expected stock buybacks. Revenue is anticipated to climb approximately 4 percent, implying $73.2 billion. The guidance accounts for 53 weeks in the fiscal year.

Analysts foresee earnings of $2.76 per share on revenue of $72.47 billion.

Home Depot had 2,252 stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces, Mexico and China at the end of the fourth quarter.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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