Wilkesboro, N.C. - Home improvement retailer Lowe's enjoyed a 22.6 percent rise in sales in its first fiscal quarter, hitting $6.5 billion, compared with $5.3 billion in the year-ago period. Comp-store sales rose 7.5 percent in the first three months.
Net earnings for the first quarter, ended May 3, jumped 53.5 percent, reaching $345.8 million, up from $225.3 million in the same three months in 2001.
Gross margin moved up 140 basis points to 29.7 percent in the first quarter, compared with 28.3 percent in the first quarter last year. Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) costs were driven down 20 basis points, to 17.6 percent.
Looking ahead, Lowe's expects total sales to increase by about 21 percent to 22 percent in its second fiscal quarter, with comp-store sales increasing 4 percent to 6 percent during the same period.
The retailer is looking for a gross margin improvement of 50 to 60 basis points in the second quarter, with flat to slight leverage in SG&A.
Total sales are expected to increase about 19 percent to 20 percent in the fiscal year, ending Jan. 31, 2003. Th retailer anticipates a comp-store sales increase of about 5 percent in the fiscal 12 months, with gross margin moving up in the fiscal year by about 50 to 60 basis points.
During the first quarter, Lowe's opened 46 new stores, including four relocations. The retailer operated 785 units as of May 3, and recorded a 19.7 percent increase in square footage, compared with a year ago. Lowe's anticipates opening 123 stores in fiscal 2002, reflecting a total square footage growth of about 18 percent.