Home De­pot’s boom comes at ex­pense of bot­tom line Page B2

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE -

Home De­pot Inc. saw sales surge in the wake of this year’s bar­rage of hur­ri­canes, but the storms still took a toll on the re­tailer’s bot­tom line.

Even as cleanup and re­build­ing ef­forts helped the chain’s sales top an­a­lysts’ es­ti­mates, ex­penses re­lated to the storms re­duced op­er­at­ing profit by $51 mil­lion. Cus­tomers stocked up on less prof­itable ply­wood and gen­er­a­tors dur­ing the nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and that nar­rowed mar­gins, the com­pany said.

“Al­though nat­u­ral dis­as­ters have had a pos­i­tive im­pact on sales, their ef­fect on mar­gins has been less sat­is­fac­tory,” said Neil Saun­ders, a Glob­alData Re­tail an­a­lyst

The good news is Home De­pot con­tin­ued to ben­e­fit from the re­bound in hous­ing prices, which spurs own­ers to spend more on fix­ing up their prop­er­ties. Last quar­ter, val­ues in 92 per­cent of U.S. metro ar­eas rose.

Rev­enue climbed 8.1 per­cent to $25 bil­lion, com­pared with an­a­lysts’ av­er­age es­ti­mate of $24.5 bil­lion. Profit rose to $1.84 a share, ex­ceed­ing the av­er­age $1.82 pro­jec­tion. That marked the 14th straight quar­ter Home De­pot has sur­passed pro­jec­tions.

Sales at stores open for more than a year — a key bench­mark for in­vestors — rose 7.9 per­cent, more than two per­cent­age points above es­ti­mates, ac­cord­ing to Con­sen­sus Metrix.

Home De­pot said the hur­ri­canes lifted same­store sales by about $282 mil­lion in the quar­ter, and those gains are ex­pected to surge in the fi­nal months of the year be­cause that’s when home­own­ers will start re­ceiv­ing in­sur­ance checks for dam­age, the com­pany said.

The com­pany lifted its guid­ance for the full year, say­ing sales will be up about 6.3 per­cent. That’s a full per­cent­age point above pre­vi­ous pro­jec­tions. Profit will be about $7.36 a share, above the pre­vi­ous fore­cast of $7.29 a share, Home De­pot said.

Pro­vi­sions in the House and Se­nate tax bill won’t slow the U.S. hous­ing mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Carol Tome. Ag­gre­gate prices are still be­low where they were be­fore the re­ces­sion while the com­pany sees more mil­len­ni­als form­ing fam­i­lies and boost­ing de­mand. The com­pany ex­pects home val­ues to keep ris­ing for at least the next three years.

“The ru­mors of an im­pend­ing slow­down, we don’t see it,” Tome said in a call with an­a­lysts. “We look at the un­der­ly­ing data. We look at what hap­pens in our stores ev­ery day, and on our web­site, and we just don’t see it.”

Alan Diaz / As­so­ci­ated Press A shop­per loads garage door trims into his pickup truck out­side The Home De­pot in Hialeah, Fla.

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