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Home Depot store in New York
Home Depot store in New York

Home Depot starts spring on slow note Add to ...

Home Depot Inc. reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales as inclement weather hurt demand for seasonal goods at the start of the spring selling season.

The world's largest home improvement retailer said sales fell 0.2 per cent to $16.82-billion in the first quarter ended on May 1, missing the analysts' average estimate of $17.02-billion.

Lower expenses helped Home Depot beat Wall Street expectations on the profit front, prompting it to boost its full-year earnings outlook even as it just backed its sales forecast.

Net income rose to $812-million, or 50 cents a share, from $725-million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting 49 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The results came the day after smaller rival Lowe's Cos. reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales and earnings, and cut its forecast for the year after a slow start to the key selling season for home improvement chains.

Such retailers have found it harder to sell their wares to homeowners in an uneven U.S. economy. Many shoppers have stayed away from expensive renovations amid falling housing prices.

A colder-than-usual spring further eroded demand for outdoor products.

Also, both Home Depot and Lowe's are up against strong numbers from last year, when a first-time home buyer tax credit and a federal stimulus for energy-efficient appliances boosted demand.

Sales at Home Depot stores open at least a year fell 0.6 per cent, with those at U.S. stores declining 0.7 per cent.

Home Depot still expects fiscal-year sales to be up about 2.5 per cent. It sees earnings of $2.24 a share, excluding future stock repurchases, up from a prior forecast of $2.20.

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