Home Depot sales climbed as U.S. housing recovers

By Xiumei Dong

Home improvement retail giant Home Depot Inc., helped by the improving U.S. housing market and favorable weather conditions, reported stronger-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter results Tuesday.

For the quarter ended Jan. 30, Home Depot reported a net income of $1.47 billion, or $1.17 per diluted share, a 6.7 percent increase compared with net earnings of $1.38 billion, or $1.05 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

The latest quarter’s earnings beat by seven cents the $1.10 per share estimate of analysts surveyed by Yahoo Finance.

“Our focus on improving the interconnected customer experience, along with solid execution and continued recovery in the U.S. housing market, resulted in record sales and net earnings for 2015,” said Chairman, CEO and President Craig Menear.

Home Depot Earning
Home Depot’s fourth-quarter revenue and earnings both increased. (Xiumei Dong/MEDILL)

Revenue surged 9.5 percent, to $20.98 billion from $19.16 billion a year ago. Comparable store sales –sales at store open at least 12 months — rose 7.1 percent, and comparable sales for U.S. stores improved by a hefty 8.9 percent.

“This quarter’s comps were the strongest of the year despite the toughest comparison,” Seth Basham of Wedbush Securities wrote in a note. “While favorable weather likely aided results, we believe Home Depot’s strong merchandising also provided a boost, particularly in bigger ticket categories such as appliances for consumers and building materials for properties.”

For the full year, Home Depot’s net earnings increased 10.5 percent to $7.01 billion, or $5.46 for share, from $6.35 billion, or $4.71 per share.

Sales were up to $88.52 billion, an increase of 6.4 percent compared with $83.18 billion in the prior year.

Home Depot’s 4th quarter and yearly earnings

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Home Depot’s revenue and gross profit improved both quarterly and yearly. Source: Home Depot Inc. 4Q Earnings Report (Xiumei Dong/MEDILL)

“We look favorably on these transaction-driven results and see additional room for bigger ticket purchases and trading up within categories as homeowner equity recovers and the economy maintains a low-growth trajectory,” wrote Basham, in reviewing the fourth-quarter earnings.

Home Depot also announced Tuesday that its board of directors declared a 17 percent increase in its quarterly dividend, to 69 cents per share.

The move, which marked the seventh consecutive year that directors have increased the dividend, represents ” a testament to our commitment to create value for our shareholders,” said Menear.

In late-afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading, Home Depot shares were trading up $1.69, or 1.3 percent, at $124.54.

Photo at Top: The Home Depot at Lincoln Park Chicago, IL. (Jeramey Jannene/FLICKR)