New-home sales up 9.6%
Sales of new single-family houses in January increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000, according to data released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rate represents a 9.6% increase over the revised December rate of 427,000, and 2.2% above the January 2013 estimate of 458,000.
The data follows shortly after the bureau reported a 16% decline in total housing starts for the month of January.
Yesterday, Census also reported the median sales price of new houses sold in January 2014 was $260,100; the average sales price was $322,800. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of January was 184,000. This represents a supply of 4.7 months at the current sales rate.
HD vs. LOW, a tale of the Q4 tape
For the 19th straight quarter Home Depot’s total company comparable-store sales beat those of Lowe’s. But the contest is getting closer.
The No. 1 and No. 2 home improvement retail companies posted quarterly financial reports one day apart from each other. Home Depot’s fourth quarter comp-store sales of 4.4% was a mere half a percentage point ahead of its rival in the category considered to be the best gauge of the health of a retailer. As the chart below shows, the gap is narrowing.
In other fourth-quarter metrics, Home Depot — operating with one less week in its 2013 fourth quarter calendar than it had in the previous year — posted bigger numbers than Lowe’s but smaller percentage increases. Depot’s sales slipped 3.0% to $17.7 billion, while Lowe’s gained 5.6% to $11.7 billion.
In the net income category, Depot cleared more than a billion dollars in quarterly net income ($1.01 billion) for the fifth straight quarter. Earnings were down slightly from $1.02 billion in the 13-week quarter a year ago.
Lowe’s increased to $306 million in quarterly net income, up 6.3% from the year-ago period.
At the end of the year, the score count scoreboard showed Home Depot 2263, Lowe’s 1,832.