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Home Depot Challenged in Q1

ATLANTA - The Home Depot's flat first-quarter sales didn't keep the company from posting double- digit profit growth.
     Net earnings during the first quarter ended May 1 rose 12% to $812 million, or 50 cents per share, compared with $725 million, or 43 cents per share, in the same period last year. Its first quarter earnings per share increased 16.3% over the prior year. Sales slipped 0.2% to $16.823 billion. Total comps fell 0.6% and were down 0.7% at the chain's U.S. stores.
     Frank Blake, chairman and ceo said, "Our sales declined slightly due to a slow spring selling season, but for the year we expect sales to grow in line with the guidance we previously provided."
     Home Depot expects sales to be up 2.5% from fiscal 2010. Based on its year-to-date performance, the company raised its fiscal 2011 earnings-per-share guidance to be up about 11.4% to $2.24 for the year. The guidance includes the benefit of the company's year-to-date share repurchases, but excludes the impact of future share repurchases.