Lowe's 1Q profit up, but cuts 2012 profit outlook

Friday, May 18, 2012, Vol. 36, No. 20

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Lowe's Cos.' first-quarter profit climbed 14 percent, as warmer weather helped boost sales. But the world's second-biggest home improvement company lowered its full-year earnings forecast on Monday, saying it is still cautious on the housing market and economic conditions.

While warmer weather helped Lowe's quarterly results, Chairman, President and CEO Robert Niblock said in a statement that demand for seasonal products slowed toward the end of the period.

Like many retailers, Lowe's has continued to deal with consumers remaining cautious in spending on their homes as the housing slump and soft economic conditions continue.

The Mooresville, N.C. retailer reported net income of $527 million, or 43 cents per share, for the period ended May 4. That's up from $461 million, or 34 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 8 percent to $13.15 billion from $12.19 billion.

The performance beat the expectations of analysts polled by FactSet, who forecast earnings of 42 cents per share on revenue of $12.99 billion.

Last week rival Home Depot Inc. reported that its first-quarter net income climbed almost 28 percent, with revenue up 6 percent.

Revenue at Lowe's stores open at least a year increased 2.6 percent, including 2.7 percent in the U.S. This figure is a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Lowe's expects 2012 earnings of $1.73 to $1.83 per share, down from $1.75 to $1.85 per share. It maintained its guidance for revenue to rise 1 percent to 2 percent, which implies $50.69 billion to $51.2 billion.

"We continue to maintain a cautious view of the housing and macro demand environment, and are focused on what we can control," Niblock said.

Analysts expect full-year earnings of $1.87 per share on revenue of $50.94 billion.

Lowe's had 1,747 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico at quarter's end.

Its shares finished at $28.48 last week. They are closer to the upper end of their 52-week range of $18.07 to $32.29 per share.