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Home Depot predicts 2005 numbers

ATLANTA — The Home Depot expects its fiscal year 2005 sales will grow between 9 and 12 percent and that earnings per share will grow between 10 and 14 percent, stated Bob Nardelli, chairman, president and CEO, at the company’s annual meeting with the investment community.

The company plans to add 175 new stores and continue its investment in store modernization and technology through a capital spending plan of $3.7 billion. Comparable store sales for fiscal 2005 are expected to increase 4 to 7 percent.

"We are clearly on track with the transformation of the company and our strategy of building multiple business platforms for solid, sustainable growth well into the future," said Nardelli. "Our strong financial performance is enabling us to build upon our position across a number of professional businesses and other adjacent markets. We are staying on our strategy of enhancing the core, extending the business and expanding the market.”

At the meeting, the company made the following forecasts of financial performance for fiscal year 2004, ending Jan. 31, 2005: sales growth of 12.5 percent to $72.9 billion; same store sales of approximately 5 percent, which would be the company's best annual performance since 1999; earnings per share of $2.26, an increase of 20 percent; and gross margin expansion of approximately 160 to 180 basis points.

As of Dec. 23, 2004 , the company has completed approximately $6.4 billion of its $7 billion share repurchase program and, over the past three years, has returned approximately $8.8 billion in cash to its shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases.

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