Home Depot Earnings Surge 72%, Hikes Outlook

Home DepotHome Depot's (HD) fourth-quarter net income rose 72 percent as more people started on home-improvement projects. The retailer also raised its earnings guidance and dividend.

Home Depot also posted its first yearly revenue increase since 2006, before the recession and housing crash hammered the home-improvement business.

Fourth-quarter net income rose to $587 million, or 36 cents per share, from $342 million, or 20 cents per share last year. Analysts expected 31 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $15.13 billion. Analysts expected $14.81 billion.

Revenue in stores open at least a year rose 3.9 percent globally and 4.8 percent in the U.S. The measure is considered an important gauge of a retailer's financial health because it excludes stores that open or close during the year.

For the year, net income rose 25 percent to $3.34 billion, or $2.01 per share, from $2.66 billion, or $1.57 per share. Revenue rose 2.8 percent to $68 billion.

For 2011, the company expects net income to rise 9.5 percent to $2.20 per share. That's up from a prior forecast of a 7 percent to 9 percent increase. Analysts expect $2.25 per share.

Home Depot expects revenue to rise 2.5 percent, from a prior forecast of 2 percent to 2.5 percent. That implies revenue of $69.7 billion. Analysts predict revenue of $69.28 billion.

The Atlanta company also raised its quarterly dividend 6 percent to 25 cents, payable March 24 to shareholders of record as of March 10.

Home Depot plans to buy back about $2.5 billion in shares throughout 2011.

Home-improvement retailers are seeing signs of life from shoppers as the housing industry slowly improves and the consumers slowly start to spend normally again after a slowdown during the recession.

Home Depot Inc.'s chief rival, Lowe's Cos., is scheduled to report its results Wednesday.

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