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Lowe’s tops Street 4Q forecasts

Associated Press

Mooresville, N.C. — Lowe’s fourth-quarter profit climbed as an improving job market creates marginal improvements in the housing market.

The country’s second-largest home improvement retailer posted earnings of $450 million, or 46 cents per share, for the three months ended Jan. 30. A year earlier it earned $306 million, or 29 cents per share.

The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 44 cents per share.

Revenue for the Mooresville, North Carolina, company rose to $12.54 billion from $11.66 billion. Analysts expected $12.29 billion, according to Zacks.

Sales at stores open at least a year climbed 7.3 percent, and 7.4 percent if only U.S. stores are counted. The figure is a key indicator of a retailer’s health because it excludes volatility from stores recently opened or closed.

Lowe’s reported a 2014 profit of $2.71 per share on revenue of $56.22 billion.

Housing sales are off to a slow start this year. Economists expect the Commerce Department to report a 2.3 percent drop in January new-home sales Wednesday.

But the employment landscape in the U.S. continues to improve. The country has added more than 1 million jobs in the past three months, the fastest clip in 17 years.

“Our transformation is gaining momentum, and macroeconomic fundamentals are aligned for modestly stronger home improvement industry growth in 2015,” said Lowe’s CEO Robert Nibloc.

The company anticipates earnings this year of about $3.29 per share. Revenue is expected to climb 4.5 percent to 5 percent. Analysts polled by FactSet called for earnings of $3.28 per share.

Lowe’s Cos. had 1,840 home improvement and hardware stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico at quarter’s end.

On Tuesday rival Home Depot Inc. reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results on strong holiday sales.