Home Depot Posts Profit

Coming off a solid fourth quarter, Home Depot sees 2010 as a transitional year, with a flat first half followed by a stronger second half.

“Calling the year transitional doesn't sound very exciting, but we've been waiting for this transition for some time,” chairman and ceo Frank Blake told analysts during the company's quarterly conference call.

However, with housing and employment still struggling, “we're still not out of the woods,” he said.

Despite slack sales, Home Depot swung to a profit during the fourth quarter and announced its first dividend increase in four years.

Earnings for the quarter ended Jan. 31 were $342 million, or 20 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $54 million, or 3 cents per share, in last year's fourth quarter. Results include $41 million from discontinued operations related to HD Supply.

Sales slipped 0.3% to $14.6 billion. Total comps rose 1.2%, but U.S. same-store sales fell 1.1%.

For the year, earnings per share rose 17.2% to $1.57. Sales fell 7.2% to $66.2 billion. Total comps declined 6.6%, with U.S. comps dropping 6.2%.

The company declared a 5% increase in its quarterly cash dividend to 23.625 cents. Home Depot last raised the dividend in the third quarter of 2006.

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