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Lowe’s profits tumble, 2008 outlook modest    

Mooresville, N.C. – Home improvement retailer Lowe’s Companies reported sharply reduced quarterly and full-year 2007 earnings – and for 2008 projected a comp-store decline and continued trimming of profits.

Lowe’s fourth-quarter net profit fell 33.4% to $408 million, on flat sales of $10.4 billion. Annual earnings of $2.81 billion were down 9.5% from the year prior.

For the year ended Feb. 1, sales climbed 2.9% to $48.3 billion – but comps fell 5.1%.

Lowe’s chairman and ceo Robert Niblock said the company “faced an unprecedented decline in housing turnover, falling home prices in many areas and turbulent mortgage markets that impacted both sentiment related to home improvement purchases as well as consumers' access to capital.”

On the upside, Niblock lauded the 1,525-unit chain’s 215,000 employees for helping Lowe’s gain market share – and predicted economic factors would improve in the second half of the current year. The company projected 2008 earnings per share of $1.50 to $1.58, down from 2007’s EPS of $1.86, and gave a sales growth forecast of 3% along with a comp decline of 5% to 6%.

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