Home Depot earnings down 24.3 percent

Home Depot's second-quarter net earnings dropped 24.3 percent to $1.2 billion from $1.59 billion in the year-ago period. Net sales were $20.99 billion, down 5.4 percent from $22.18 billion in the same period last year.

Comparable-store sales fell 7.9 percent.

The results were in part weaker because of comparisons of the 53-week fiscal 2007 calendar to the 52-week fiscal 2008 calendar. Without that difference, comparable-store sales would have been off by slightly less -- down 7.2 percent, the company said. Second-quarter sales were negatively impacted by $160 million because of this comparison.

"We continue to see pressure on our market and the consumer, generally," said Frank Blake, Home Depot chairman and CEO. "Despite the macroeconomic conditions, we saw improved execution in our merchandising and operations initiatives during the past quarter. I am very proud of what our associates have accomplished in a difficult environment.”

For the full year, Home Depot anticipates a sales decline of 5 percent overall and an earnings-per-share decline of 24 percent due to “continued softness in the housing and home improvement markets.”

At the end of the second quarter, Home Depot operated a total of 2,257 retail stores, including 1,965 Home Depot stores in the United States, 167 stores in Canada, 72 stores in Mexico, 12 stores in China, as well as two Home Depot Design Centers, five Yardbirds stores and 34 EXPO Design Center locations.

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