Home Depot sales miss estimates; shares fall

Tue May 15, 2012 8:20am EDT
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By Dhanya Skariachan

(Reuters) - Home Depot Inc (HD.N: Quote) reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales on Tuesday after demand slowed in April following a jump in home improvement projects spurred by warm weather earlier in the year.

The news sent shares of the world's largest home improvement chain down more than 3 percent and caused an analyst to lower his sales estimates for smaller rival Lowe's (LOW.N: Quote), which plans to report its results next week.

Spring is traditionally the biggest selling season of the year for home improvement chains. But this year, homeowners stepped out earlier to take advantage of unseasonably warm winter weather across the United States.

Sales at Home Depot rose 5.9 percent to $17.81 billion in the first quarter ended on April 29, but missed the analysts' average estimate of $17.96 billion.

"The sales miss could be linked to a mediocre increase in the average transaction value, which suggests continued so-so sales in big-ticket merchandise categories and a heavy influence from seasonal products," said Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions.

The average transaction price at Home Depot rose 2.2 percent to $54.51 in the quarter.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 5.8 percent globally, including a 6.1 percent rise in the United States.

Wall Street analysts were looking for a global same-store sales rise of 6.5 percent in the quarter, Oppenheimer analyst Brian Nagel said.   Continued...

A customer wheels a cart through a Home Depot store in Washington February 20, 2012. Home Depot will report its 2011 fourth quarter earnings on Tuesday. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst