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Mixed Results Seen For Sears’ Major Appliance Competitors

NEW YORK — While Sears reported a major loss in its fiscal first quarter (see story above), of its three competitors in major appliance retail sales, The Home Depot had the best corporate performance, followed by Lowe’s and hhgregg, in their most recent financial reports.

Net income fell for hhgregg. Lowe’s reported higher net earnings on relatively flat sales, but Home Depot reported higher sales, comp sales and net earnings in its fiscal first quarter.

The only one of the three chains reporting specifics on major appliance was hhgregg for its fiscal fourth quarter, ended March 31, which illustrated the reported strength of the category. Majaps posted growth during the quarter, with comps up 5.2 percent on higher unit volume, which was offset by a modest decline in average selling prices, the chain said.

Comps were down for the quarter for hhgregg across the board for its other categories: CE, computers and mattresses.

Net income for the retailer fell 81 percent to $9.9 million as net sales slipped 2.6 percent to $597.6 million, and comp-store sales declined 9.8 percent during the quarter.

Home Depot and Lowe’s did not break out its major appliance sales, but the former had a better quarter overall than the latter.

In Home Depot’s fiscal first-quarter report, ended May 5, sales were $19.1 billion for the first quarter, up 7.4 percent compared with the prior year. Comp-store sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 were positive 4.3 percent, and comp sales for U.S. stores were positive 4.8 percent, the chain said. Net earnings for the first quarter were up $200 million, to $1.2 billion, compared year on year.

Lowe’s reported for its fiscal first quarter, ended May 3, net earnings of $540 million for the quarter, a 2.5 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter decreased 0.5 percent to $13.1 billion, from $13.2 billion in the first quarter of 2012, while comparable sales for the quarter decreased 0.7 percent.

Robert A. Niblock, Lowe’s chairman, president and CEO, commented, “Results for indoor categories were solid for the quarter,” presumably including major appliances.

(To see how these three chains, plus Sears and Best Buy, performed in the white-goods market for calendar year 2012, check the June 17 issue for TWICE’s Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers Report.) — Additional reporting by Alan Wolf