Stat Flash: Economic Perception remains a concern
Consumer research from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group shows some positive movement in consumer sentiment in January, but concerns linger.
The January figure for the NPD U.S. Economic Perception Indicator rose to 40.0 on a scale of 0 — "very concerned" — to 100 — "very confident." The figure is an improvement upon 37.4 recorded in December, but it is below the year-ago figure of 41.4:
• January 2012: 40.0
• December 2011: 37.4
• January 2011: 41.4
"While a one-month uptick does not suggest a trend, it does seem to suggest that consumers are coming out of the holidays with a little more optimism than when they went in," according to NPD.
Younger consumers appear more confident than older consumers, according to the NPD’s analysis.
The NPD Group’s U.S. Economic Perception Indicator measures consumer beliefs about the current and near-term state of the U.S. economy.
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Home Depot reports strong fourth quarter
Boosted by mild temperatures and spring-like selling conditions throughout much of the country, Atlanta-based Home Depot saw sales rise nearly 6% in the fourth quarter.
The home improvement giant reported fourth-quarter sales of $16.0 billion, up 5.9% from the same quarter last year. Comparable-store sales were positive 5.7%, and up 6.1% in the United States.
"We had a strong finish to 2011, and with favorable weather, our business delivered results that exceeded our expectations," said CEO Frank Blake.
The performance also exceeded the expectations of most analysts on Wall Street, where expectations had called for about $15.5 billion in sales for the quarter.
Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $774 million, up 31.9% from the fourth quarter last year.
For the full year, Home Depot’s sales increased 3.5% to $70.4 billion, as comp-store sales increased 3.4% in total and increased 3.0% in the United States. Earnings for the full year were $3.883 billion, up 16.3% from earnings of $3.338 billion in 2010.
Looking ahead to 2012, Home Depot expects sales growth of about 4%, including an extra week in the upcoming fiscal year. The company also plans 11 new stores in 2012.
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