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Lowe’s Sales Climb 16.2% In Fiscal Q3, Net Rises 15.5%

Mooresville, N.C. — An ongoing robust housing market, improving employment and strong demographic trends helped produce a 16.2 percent sales increase in the fiscal third-quarter at home improvement retailer Lowe’s. Sales rose to $9.1 billion from a year-ago $7.8 billion. Comp-store sales in the three months rose 5.2 percent.

“Third-quarter sales performance continued our trend of consistently strong results,” said Robert Niblock, president. “These consistent results are based on a singular, company-wide focus on serving our customers’ ever-changing needs.”

Net earnings in the third quarter, ended Oct. 29, increased 15.5 percent to $522 million, up from $452 million in the same period a year earlier.

Gross margin in the third quarter climbed to 33.7 percent, up from a year-earlier 31.3 percent, while expenses also rose, reaching 21 percent in the three months, compared with 18.6 percent in the same quarter in 2003.

For the nine months, sales at Lowe’s soared 18.3 percent, rising to $27.9 billion from $23.6 billion in the same period last year. Comp-store sales increased 6.6 percent.

Nine-month net earnings grew 14.4 percent, hitting $1.7 billion from $1.5 billion year-on-year.

In the third quarter, the retailer opened 35 new stores, including one relocation. At the end of the quarter, total number of stores chain-wide rose to 1,031, representing a 13.4 percent increase in retail selling space, compared with the same nine months a year ago.

In the fourth quarter, Lowe’s anticipates opening 56 stores, with 140 scheduled to open in all of 2004. Store opening costs for the fourth quarter are expected to be about $52 million, with this figure reaching about $123 million for the full fiscal year, ending Jan. 28, 2005.