Home Depot Is Spring King Among Hardware Chains

Despite a miniscule decline in sales, Home Depot’s first-quarter profit rose 12 percent because of its ability to reduce costs. Its rival Lowe’s reports an even bigger drop in first-quarter sales.

Lowe’s reports net earnings of $461 million for the quarter, a 5.7 percent decrease from the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter decreased 1.6 percent to $12.2 billion from $12.4 billion in the first quarter of 2010.

“We delivered earnings per share within our guidance for the quarter, despite lower than expected sales,” says Robert A. Niblock, Lowe’s chairman and CEO. “During the quarter, we faced ongoing economic pressures, unfavorable weather conditions and tough comparisons to last year’s government stimulus programs. While we are focused on competing effectively in the current environment, we are also working diligently on our commitment to deliver better customer experiences. We are building momentum in 2011 behind our transformation from a home improvement retailer to a home improvement company.”

Niblock adds that Lowe’s plans to launch a Spanish-language version of its website this summer to better serve the growing Spanish-speaking population.

Home Depot, meanwhile, did not quantify the cause of its decline in sales, but economic pressures and poor weather conditions were likely factors. We continued to improve our business and delivered double-digit earnings growth,” says Frank Blake, Home Depot’s chairman & CEO. “Our sales declined slightly due to a slow spring selling season, but for the year we expect sales to grow in line with the guidance we previously provided.”

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