August 21, 2008

Home Depot Profit Drops 24 Percent

CHICAGO - The Home Depot Inc. said Tuesday that its second- quarter profit sank 24 percent and reiterated its downbeat outlook for the year amid a weak housing market that shows no signs of recovery.

For the three months ending Aug. 3, the nation's largest home improvement chain said its net income fell to $1.2 billion, or 71 cents per share. That's down from $1.59 billion, or 81 cents per share, during the same period last year.

Meanwhile, revenue slid 5.4 percent to $21 billion, down from $22.2 billion last year. And same-store sales, an important retail industry metric of sales at stores opened at least a year, fell 7.9 percent.

The results handily beat expectations as do-it-yourselfers began to take their hammers and paint brushes out of retirement. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had projected earnings of 61 cents per share on revenue of $20.58 billion.

Goldman Sachs analyst Matt-hew Fassler told investors in a research note that the better-than-expected results indicate a "reprieve" from an earlier slowdown by shoppers who postponed projects as the nation's housing market slows.

"These results confirm that the DIY market received a reprieve from some combination of better weather, fiscal stimulus, and a floor in demand," he wrote.

Still, the results paint a grim picture of the cost-conscious American consumer, and Home Depot shares fell 56 cents, or 2 percent, to $26.40 in midday trading.

The company said comparable sales were negative for each of the company's departments and the average spending per customer in a visit fell 1.2 percent to $57.58.

Originally published by Associated Press.

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