Sandy Helps Boost Lowe’s To Estimate Beat

Lowe’s Cos., Inc., has reported net earnings of $288 million in the fiscal fourth quarter versus $322 million in the year-earlier period. Diluted earnings per share were flat year over year at 26 cents.

A Thomson Reuters average analyst estimate called for profits of 23 cents a share, according to published reports.

For fiscal 2012, net earnings were $1.96 billion, or $1.69 per diluted share, versus $1.84 billion, or $1.43 per diluted share, in the year prior.

Lowe’s fourth quarter and fiscal year 2011 included an extra week compared to 2012. Under the influence of the extra week in 2011, net earnings for the fourth quarter declined 10.6% and diluted earnings per share were flat from the fourth quarter of 2011. Net earnings for the fiscal year increased 6.5% while diluted earnings per share increased 18.2% from fiscal 2011, the company stated.

Fourth quarter sales decreased 5% to $11 billion from $11.6 billion in the 2011 period. For the fiscal year, sales were $50.5 billion, a 0.6% increase versus fiscal 2011, the retailer said.

The 53rd week contributed $766 million to sales and five cents to diluted earnings per share in fourth quarter and fiscal year 2011, Lowe’s pointed out. Fourth quarter comparisons in 2012 were also impacted by a week shift that negatively impacted sales by $119 million and diluted earnings per share by approximately two cents in the 2012 period. The week shift had an insignificant impact on sales and diluted earnings per share for the year, the retailer added.

Fourth quarter 2012 comparable store sales increased 1.9% on a consolidated basis as well as for operations in the United States. For the fiscal year, comps increased 1.4%, the company noted, while comps for the U.S. business increased 1.5%.

“Our results are a testament to the team’s success in driving more balanced performance across the quarter, our response to the demand created by recovery efforts in the wake of superstorm Sandy, and the momentum we’re creating with our initiatives,” said Robert Niblock, Lowe’s chairman, president and CEO, in comments on financial results.

As of February 1, 2013, Lowe’s operated 1,754 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the company related.