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Home Depot Q4 Profits Flatten On Lower Sales

Atlanta — The Home Depot reported flat fourth-quarter earnings on a slight sales decline.

Profits remained essentially static at $1 billion for the three months, ended Feb. 2, a 0.8 percent dip, while net sales slipped 3 percent to $17.7 billion. Comp-store sales for the period rose 4.4 percent chain-wide and 4.9 percent in the U.S.

Total customer transactions fell 4 percent during the period although average ticket edged up 1.1 percent.

For the full fiscal year, net earnings increased 18.7 percent to $5.4 billion, and net sales rose 5.4 percent to $78.8 billion. Total annual comp sales increased 6.8 percent, and U.S. comps rose 7.5 percent, representing what chairman/CEO Frank Blake described as the company’s strongest comp-sales growth in 14 years.

He attributed the comp gains to “solid execution” and the recovering housing market.

In a research note, Credit Suisse retail analyst Gary Balter lauded Home Depot for “managing through a difficult retail environment,” and for projecting comp growth of 4.6 percent this year despite the severe winter weather, a slower housing market and tough year-ago comparisons due to high demand following Superstorm Sandy.

Analyst David Strasser of Janney Montgomery Scott also noted that major appliances contributed to the company’s comp performance in the fourth quarter.