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Home Depot leaks sales, profit in 4Q

The Home Depot Inc. reported that sales and profits both declined during the fourth quarter, stunted by one less week of sales than last year, and wilting under the heat of stepped-up pressure from Lowe's, which is muscling into key Home Depot markets.

Progressively weakening throughout the year, profits slipped by 3.4 percent, to $686 million from $710 million last year. Sales were off by 2.0 percent, to $12.2 billion from $13.5 billion, as both the number of sales transactions and their size declined. Same-store sales declined by 6.0 percent.

The 2002 fourth-quarter is up against 14-week prior-year period. Comparing equivalent 13-week periods, sales increased by 5 percent, driven by new store openings, while earnings per share grew by 11 percent.

Taking a modest bite out of the bottom line, operating costs grew higher, offsetting stronger margins. Hurt by lower sales, expenses increased by 140 basis points, or 1.4 percentage points, to 23.7 percent of sales from 22.3 percent a year ago. Average gross margin widened by 120 basis points, to 32.0 percent of sales from 30.8 percent the preceding year. Despite the lower level of sales, gross margin dollars increased by 1.6 percent, to $4.2 billion.

Reflecting greater strength earlier in the year, 12-month profits climbed by 20.4 percent, to $3.7 billion from $3.0 billion. Sales for all of last year improved by 8.8 percent, to $58.2 billion from $53.6 billion. Same-store sales for the year were flat.

The Home Depot Inc.

Qtr. 2/2 (x000) 2002 2001 % chg
Sales $13,213,000 $13,488,000 -2.0
Oper. income (EBIT) 1,095,000 1,152,000 -4.9
Net income 686,000 710,000 -3.4
Per share (diluted) 0.30 0.30 0.0
Average gross margin 32.0% 30.8%
SG&A expenses 23.7% 22.3%
12 months
Sales 58,247,000 53,553,000 8.8
Oper. income (EBIT) 5,830,000 4,932,000 18.2
Net income 3,664,000 3,044,000 20.4
Per share (diluted) 1.56 1.29 20.9
Average gross margin 31.1% 30.2%
SG&A expenses 21.1% 20.9%

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