Lowe’s tops earnings estimates as same-store sales jump 28%, warns that some DIY trends could fade

Shoppers wearing protective masks wait in line to enter a Lowe’s Cos. store in San Bruno, California, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Lowe’s said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter same-store sales climbed 28.1%, as consumers continued to spend money on home projects during the pandemic.

That’s higher than the 22% growth that analysts expected, according to StreetAccount. Even with the strong results, Lowe’s continues to expect that sales could moderate as the pandemic eases.

Lowe’s shares rose more than 3% in premarket trading on the news.

Here’s what the company reported for the quarter ended Jan. 29 compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $1.33, adjusted, vs. $1.21 expected
  • Revenue: $20.31 billion vs. $19.48 billion expected

Lowe’s reported fourth-quarter net income of $978 million, or $1.32 per share, up from $509 million, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, it earned $1.33 per share, exceeding the $1.21 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Net sales rose to $20.31 billion, outpacing analysts’ expectations of $19.48 billion.

Sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year and online grew by 28.6% in the quarter.

Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison said in a press release that the company saw high demand across the board. It had sales growth of 16% in all merchandising departments and of more than 19% in all regions of the country. Online sales grew by 121% in the quarter, he said.

Lowe’s reiterated the forecast it gave at an investor day in December. Chief Financial Officer David Denton had said home improvement sales will likely decline in 2021 as more people get Covid-19 vaccines and spend more time outside of their homes. He laid out three potential scenarios for a robust, moderate or weak market. In a robust market, he said the retailer’s outlook for 2021 anticipates a between 5% and 7% drop in demand for the home improvement sector on a mix adjusted basis. In a moderate and weak market, he said demand will likely drop by between 7% and 9% or by 10%, respectively.

Even in a weak market, Denton said the retailer is poised to improve its operating margins. He said as sales moderate with do-it-yourself customers, they may pick up with home professionals — a smaller part of Lowe’s customer base, but one that it’s looking to grow.

On Wednesday, Lowe’s said it spent more than $100 million in the fourth quarter and more than $900 million for the year on additional Covid-related pay and benefits for employees. It said it spent nearly $1.3 billion in pandemic-related expenses, including higher wages and store safety measures in the fiscal year.

The company said it spent $3.4 billion on share buybacks and paid $452 million in dividends in the fourth quarter. 

Rival Home Depot’s fourth-quarter earnings also surpassed Wall Street’s expectations this week. The retailer reported strong demand for DIY project supplies, outdoor items like patio furniture and holiday decor as shoppers spend more time at home. However, it did not provide an outlook for the year, saying it’s not sure how long the pandemic will last and what that means for consumer spending.

As of Tuesday’s close, Lowe’s shares are up nearly 35% over the past year. The company’s market value is $123.53 billion.

Read the complete press release here.

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