With Americans continuing to invest in their largest asset, their homes, home improvement retailer Lowe's maintained pace as it experienced consistent performance across all regions and all product categories in its fiscal fourth quarter.
Sales for the three months, ended Jan. 31, climbed 16.5 percent, hitting $6.1 billion, up from $5.3 billion in the year-ago period. Comp-store sales in the fourth quarter increased 4.1 percent. Net earnings soared 46.2 percent in the fourth quarter, reaching $319.4 million, compared with $218.4 million in the same quarter a year ago.
For the 12 months, Lowe's sales rose 19.8 percent, hitting $26.5 billion, up from $22.1 billion in the prior year. Comp-store sales for the 12 months jumped 5.6 percent over the previous period. For the fiscal year, net earnings grew 43.8 percent, reaching $1.5 billion, up from $1 billion in the same time frame a year earlier.
In the first quarter of 2003, Lowe's expects to increase total sales by about 15 percent, with comps rising 2 percent to 4 percent. For the fiscal year, total sales are anticipated to increase about 16 percent to 17 percent, with comps rising about 4 percent to 5 percent.
Lowe's continues to expand into large cities, such as New York and claims an increasing market share, compared with industry leader Home Depot. Lowe's expects to open 20 new stores in the first quarter of 2003 and 130 locations in the current fiscal year.