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Lowe’s Posts Double-Digit Q3 Gains

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s recorded a 16.9 percent increase in sales during its fiscal third quarter, rising to $10.6 billion from a year-ago $9.1 billion.

Net earnings for Lowe’s hit $649 million in the third quarter, a 25.8 percent improvement over the same period in 2004, when the chain reported $516 million in net income. Comp-store sales climbed 6.2 percent.

Gross margin in the quarter edged upward to 33.9 percent from a year-earlier 33.7 percent, while expenses dropped to 20.9 percent, from 21 percent in the same three months the prior year.

Lowe’s, which said it recorded positive comp-store sales in all of its 20 product categories in the third quarter, ended Oct. 28, and in 19 of its 21 geographic regions, found these results to be a “clear indication that consumers continue to invest in products and projects to maintain, enhance and improve their homes, even in light of concerns about the impact if rising gasoline and home-heating costs,” said Robert Niblock, chairman/CEO.

During the third quarter, Lowe’s opened 33 new stores and temporarily closed one store impacted by hurricane Katrina.

In the nine months, Lowe’s sales increased 16.2 percent, hitting $32.4 billion, up from a year-on-year $27.9 billion. Comp-store sales move up 5.5 percent.

Net earnings grew 24.5 percent in the nine months, rising to $2.1 billion, from $1.7 billion in the year-ago period.

Gross margin in the nine months rose to 34.1 percent, from 33.4 percent the previous year, while expenses inched upward to 23.7 percent from a year-ago 23.6 percent.

In the fourth quarter, Lowe’s expects to open 63 new stores and reopen one unit that was temporarily set down by Katrina. In the fiscal year, the retailer anticipates opening 150 stores.