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At Lowe’s investor’s conference, the focus is growth

BY Ken Clark

At its annual conference in Mooresville, N.C., held Tuesday, Lowe’s executives are prepared to talk growth and the transformation from retailer to a "home improvement company."

“We are in the process of transforming Lowe’s from a home improvement retailer to a home improvement company — a company committed to delivering better customer experiences across the entire home improvement spectrum, by pulling together the best combination of possibilities, support and value for customers wherever and whenever they choose to engage," said CEO Robert Niblock in a prepared statement. "By enhancing our customer experience, we will drive long-term sales growth, increase profitability and enhance shareholder value." 

During the investor conference, senior Lowe’s executives will focus on the strategic investments and critical decisions made in 2011, according to the company. 

Lowe’s also revealed its fiscal year 2011 guidance, which includes:

• Total sales expected to increase 2% to 3%, including the 53rd week of the year;
• Comparable-store sales decline about 1%; and
• Store openings totaling about 25 stores in 2011.

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Toro Co. posts record results in 2011

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bloomington, Minn.-based Toro Co. posted record sales in 2011, including a 5.8% sales gain in the company’s residential segment. 

“Fiscal 2011 was a very good year for the Toro Co., delivering record revenues and earnings per share,” said Michael Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and CEO.

For the year, the company’s total earnings were up 26.3% to $117.7 million, and net sales were up 11.5% to $1.884 billion. In the fourth quarter, net earnings increased from $3.2 million to $5 million, as net sales increased 9.1% to $337.3 million.

Residential segment net sales for fiscal 2011 totaled $623.9 million, up 5.8 % over last year. For the year, sales of riding products increased on demand for Toro’s new line of zero-turn mowers, the company said.

Shipments of snow products were up significantly in North America and Europe coming off last year’s strong snow season that boosted preseason orders, along with benefits from additional product placement. 

Somewhat offsetting these gains were lower orders of walk power mowers and electric blowers due to unfavorable weather conditions. For the fourth quarter, residential segment net sales were $143.5 million, up 12.9% from the comparable fiscal 2010 period.

Residential segment earnings for fiscal 2011 totaled $54.4 million, down from $58 million last year. For the fourth quarter, residential segment earnings were $11.9 million, up from $8.8 million in the comparable fiscal 2010 period.

"We are well-positioned to grow share in our markets with a strong lineup of innovative new products, along with the benefit of additional capacity from the investment in our new Romania operation," Hoffman said.

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Tractor Supply announces executive promotions

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Brentwood, Tenn.-based Tractor Supply Co. has promoted Alexander Stanton to senior VP supply chain. In his new role, Stanton will handle logistics, transportation, distribution centers, inventory management and pricing for the 1,054-store retailer.

He joined the company in 2006 as VP finance and was later named senior VP finance and strategy. In his new role, he will report to Gregory Sandfort, president and chief merchandising officer.

Also promoted was Christine Skold, appointed as VP investor relations, strategy and Tractor Value System (TVS). She will assume the investor relations and strategic planning functions previously held by Stanton and will retain management responsibilities for TVS, the company’s continuous improvement program based on LEAN principles. Skold joined Tractor Supply in September 2002 and has held prior leadership roles in accounting, internal audit and TVS.  She will continue to report to Anthony Crudele, chief financial officer.

"We are very pleased to announce these two management promotions, which recognize the respective achievements of Alex and Christine, both of whom exhibit our company’s highest standards of integrity and a passion for the business," said CEO Jim Wright. "We look forward to their continued contributions as we progress on our long-term strategic initiatives. Further, these promotions are great examples of our ongoing efforts to develop key leaders within our company."

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