Lowe's posts solid results

Fourth-quarter earnings at Lowe's increased 39.0% to $285 million, as sales increased for the quarter and the year. 

The earnings exceeded previous guidance, as the company increased comp-store sales and gross margins.

The Mooresville, N.C.-based home improvement giant reported fourth quarter sales of $10.5 billion, up 2.9% from the prior-year quarter. For the full year ended Jan. 28, sales increased 3.4% to $48.8 billion.

Comparable store sales were up 1.1% in the quarter, and up 1.3% for the full year. 

"While uncertainty in the market remains, the economic recovery is continuing," Niblock added. "We are committed to delivering better customer experiences and expect to grow market share in 2011 as we make continued progress on our key initiatives."

For the full year, Lowe's net earnings increased 12.7% to $2.0 billion. 

The results came the day after rival Home Depot posted its fourth quarter and full year earnings, which also showed significant gains. Sales for Home Depot were up 2.8% for the year, and up 3.8% in the quarter. 

During the quarter, Lowe's opened 17 stores and closed two. At the end of the quarter, Lowe's operated 1,749 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico representing 197.1 million square feet of retail selling space, a 2.0% increase over last year.

In fiscal 2011, a year in which the company will enjoy an extra week of business, total sales are expected to increase approximately 5%, including the 53rd week. Lowe's expects comparable store sales to increase 1% to 2%.

Also looking forward, the company expects to open 25 to 30 stores in 2011 reflecting total square footage growth of approximately 1.5%.



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