Lowe's reports Q4 earnings up 39% to US$285M on sales 3.1% higher at US$10.5B; comparable store sales increased 1.1%, as company opened 17 stores during the quarter

MOORESVILLE, North Carolina , February 23, 2011 (press release) – -- Fourth Quarter Net Earnings Increased 39 Percent --

-- Fourth Quarter Diluted Earnings Per Share Increased 50 Percent --


Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW), the world’s second largest home improvement retailer, today reported net earnings of $285 million for the quarter ended January 28, 2011, a 39.0 percent increase from the same period a year ago. Diluted earnings per share increased 50.0 percent to $0.21 from $0.14 in the fourth quarter of 2009. For the fiscal year ended January 28, 2011, net earnings increased 12.7 percent to $2.0 billion and diluted earnings per share increased 17.4 percent to $1.42.

“We delivered solid results for the quarter, including earnings that exceeded our guidance”

Sales for the quarter increased 3.1 percent to $10.5 billion, up from $10.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009. For the fiscal year ended January 28, 2011, sales increased 3.4 percent to $48.8 billion. Comparable store sales increased 1.1 percent for the fourth quarter and increased 1.3 percent for fiscal 2010.

“We delivered solid results for the quarter, including earnings that exceeded our guidance,” commented Robert A. Niblock, Lowe's chairman and CEO. “I would like to thank our more than 234,000 employees who worked diligently and executed well through the holiday season and difficult winter weather. Because of their efforts, we grew comparable store sales and gross margin while leveraging expenses.

“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.”

During the quarter, Lowe’s opened 17 stores and closed two. As of January 28, 2011, 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 percent increase over last year.

A conference call to discuss fourth quarter 2010 operating results is scheduled for today (Wednesday, February 23) at 9:00 am ET. The conference call will be available through a webcast and can be accessed by visiting Lowe’s website at www.Lowes.com/investor and clicking on Lowe’s Fourth Quarter 2010 Earnings Conference Call Webcast. A replay of the call will be archived on Lowes.com until May 15, 2011.

Lowe’s Business Outlook

First Quarter 2011 (comparisons to first quarter 2010)

* Total sales are expected to increase approximately 2 percent
* The company expects comparable store sales to be approximately flat
* The company expects square footage growth of approximately 2 percent

* Earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales (operating margin) are expected to decrease 10 to 20 basis points
* Depreciation expense is expected to be approximately $360 million
* Diluted earnings per share of $0.34 to $0.38 are expected
* Lowe’s first quarter ends on April 29, 2011 with operating results to be publicly released on Monday, May 16, 2011

Fiscal Year 2011 – a 53-week Year (comparisons to fiscal year 2010 – a 52-week year)

* Total sales are expected to increase approximately 5 percent, including the 53rd week
* The 53rd week is expected to increase total sales by approximately 1.6 percent
* The company expects comparable store sales to increase 1 to 2 percent
* The company expects to open 25 to 30 stores in 2011 reflecting total square footage growth of approximately 1.5 percent
* Earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales (operating margin) are expected to increase approximately 30 basis points
* Depreciation expense is expected to be approximately $1.48 billion
* Diluted earnings per share of $1.60 to $1.72 are expected for the fiscal year ending February 3, 2012

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