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Home Depot Profit Off 66%

A $543 million charge sent Home Depot's first-quarter net income plummeting by 66% to $356 million, or 21 cents per share.

The charge was related to the closing of 15 stores and elimination of 50 more from future development. Without the charge, earnings would have been $697 million, or 41 cents per share.

Sales for the quarter ended May 4 fell 3.4% to $17.91 billion, with comps down 6.5%.

"The housing and home improvement markets remained difficult in the first quarter; in fact, conditions worsened in many areas of the country," said ceo Frank Blake.