Home De­pot’s boom at ex­pense of profit

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Matt Townsend

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 shares rose less than 1 per­cent to $165.71 on Tues­day. They had been up 23 per­cent this year through Mon­day’s close.

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 same-store 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.

The com­pany added it doesn’t ex­pect a tax pro­posal from House Repub­li­cans — which would re­duce the mort­gage in­ter­est that home­own­ers can de­duce — to have a ma­te­rial im­pact on re­sults.

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