Home centers down but optimistic

Home improvement retailer The Home Depot, Atlanta, GA, reported sales for the second quarter ended August 3, 2009, were $19.1 billion, down 9.1% from the prior year period. Profit declined 7% to $1.12 billion. “Concerns about the housing market, rising unemployment and softness in the overall economy continue to pressure consumers,” CEO Frank Blake said. “Our business performed well in a down market, we captured market share and drove operating productivity. The combination made for a solid quarter relative to our plan.”

Lowe’s reported net income of $759 million for the quarter ending July 31, a 19.1 percent drop from the same time a year ago; this translated into an earnings per share of 51 cents. Sales dropped 4.6 percent to $13.8 billion, and fell by an average of 9.5 percent in stores open at least a year. Lowe’s management blamed the bad quarter on shaky consumer confidence, bad weather, and a harsh comparison to last year’s quarter, when consumers were prodded into the store by a fresh influx of federal tax rebate checks. But CEO Robert A. Niblock said in a statement that there are signs of a bottoming out in housing and the larger economy, so the company expects D.I.Y.ers to begin trickling back into stores.

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