Lowe's (LOW) reported Monday its second-quarter earnings rose a smaller-than-expected 9.6% to $832 million, or 58 cents a share, from $759 million, or 51 cents a share in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected Lowe's to earn 59 cents per share.

Quarterly sales grew 4.6% to $14.4 billion, from $13.8 billion last year. Same-store sales increased 1.6% for the quarter.

"Despite economic uncertainty, our continued focus on the customer and prudent expense management yielded solid results for the quarter," said Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock. "With limited visibility into near-term demand, we continue to focus on operational efficiency to create value for our shareholders. Longer-term, we believe improvements in labor and housing markets will be necessary to support more consistent improvement in demand for home improvement products."

Looking ahead, the home-improvement retailer expects same-store sales to grow 1% to 3% and to earn 28 cents to 32 cents a share for the third quarter ended Oct. 29. Analysts estimate earnings of 31 cents per share in the quarter. Lowe's also said it will open 12 new stores in the current quarter, for a total of 40 to 45 stores in 2010.

For full fiscal-year 2010, the company sees earnings coming in the range of $1.38 to $1.45. Analysts expect $1.42 cents per share.

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