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Lowe’s earnings down

MOORESVILLE ó Lowe’s Companies, the world’s second largest home improvement retailer, announced today that earnings for the second quarter of 2008 declined 7.9 percent from the same period a year ago.
For the first six months of 2008, net earnings are down 12.1 percent to $1.54 billion while diluted earnings per share declined 8.7 percent to $1.05.
The Mooresville-based company reported net earnings of $938 million for the quarter ending Aug. 1.
Diluted earnings per share declined 4.5 percent to $0.64 from $0.67 in the second quarter of 2007.
Sales for the quarter increased 2.4 percent to $14.5 billion, up from $14.2 billion in the second quarter of 2007. For the six months ending Aug. 1, sales increased 0.7 percent to $26.5 billion.
Comparable store sales for the second quarter declined 5.3 percent and declined 6.7 percent in the first half of 2008.
“Our sales results for the quarter, while better than our forecast, reflect the realities of the continuing macro economic pressures on our industry,” Robert A. Niblock, Lowe’s chairman and CEO, said in a press release. “We saw relative strength in our seasonal sales as homeowners welcomed back spring and restored lawns and outdoor landscaping following the effects of last year’s drought in much of the country.
“In addition, we believe our second quarter sales benefited from the economic impact of the fiscal stimulus tax rebates. Unfortunately, weakness in bigger ticket projects continues, particularly in markets most impacted by the housing downturn.
“… The macro economic factors pressuring consumers and the ongoing challenges and uncertainty of the financial markets suggest a cautious sales forecast for the balance of fiscal 2008 is prudent.”
During the quarter, Lowe’s opened 23 new stores, bringing to 1,577 the number of Lowe’s stores in the United States and Canada.
Those stores represent 178.6 million square feet of retail space, a 10.5 percent increase from last year.
As for the rest of the year, Lowe’s projected for third quarter 2008 (compared to third quarter 2007):
– To open about 38 new stores reflecting a 10 percent growth in square footage.
– 1 to 2 percent increase in total sales.
– A 5 to 7 percent decline in comparable store sales.

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