Mooresville, N.C. — Despite a number of 'weather-driven challenges,' home improvement retailer Lowe’s reported a 20.1 percent jump in sales for its fiscal fourth quarter, hitting $7.3 billion, up from $6 billion in the year-ago period. Comp-store sales climbed 7.3 percent.
Lowe’s recorded net earnings of $407 million in its fourth quarter, ended Jan. 30, a 27.6 percent increase over the $319 million that came in the same three months a year ago. Gross margin rose a fraction of 1 percent, to 32 percent.
Calling its fiscal year 'outstanding,' on top of a 'phenomenal performance in 2002,' Lowe’s president Robert Niblock said, 'We continue to see strong results from our metro-market expansion. Our up-the-continuum merchandising strategy and branding initiatives continue to provide our customers the best products and services to meet their home improvement needs.'
For the 12 months, Lowe’s increased sales 18.1 percent, reaching $30.8 billion, compared with the $26.1 billion reported a year earlier. Comps rose 6.7 percent.
Fiscal year net earnings grew 27.6 percent, to $1.9 billion, up from $1.5 billion in the same period the previous year. Gross margin rose less than a percentage point, to a bit over 31 percent.
In the first quarter of its current fiscal year, Lowe’s expects to increase sales 18 percent to 19 percent year-on-year, accompanied by positive comps of 6 percent to 7 percent.
In the current fiscal 12 months, Lowe’s will open 140 stores, with total sales climbing 17 percent and comps 5 percent to 6 percent year-over-year.
Looking ahead to the 2005 fiscal year, Lowe’s is looking to open 150 stores, with total sales rising about 17 percent year-on-year.