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Home Depot’s Q4 same-store sales drop 6.6 percent

The Home Depot yesterday reported sales increased 4 percent during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 for a total of $20.3 billion, while comparable-store sales declined 6.6 percent during the same period.

The Atlanta-based home improvement retailer also said its fourth quarter net earnings totaled $925 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, compared with $1.3 billion, or $0.60 per diluted share, in the same period in fiscal 2005.

For fiscal 2006, sales totaled $90.8 billion, an 11.4 percent increase over fiscal 2005. Comparable store sales for the year declined 2.8 percent.

Net earnings for the year totaled $5.8 billion, or $2.79 per diluted share, compared to net earnings of $5.8 billion and diluted earnings per share of $2.72 in fiscal 2005.

The slowing real estate market was pinpointed as a factor in the retailer’s sluggish retail results in a statement from the company.

Yesterday’s results follow the news earlier this month that Home Depot is considering selling its HD Supply business in order to focus on its retail business. Home Depot paid $3.2 billion for wholesale supplier Hughes Supply a little more than a year ago as part of a strategy to build its wholesale division. That strategy was reportedly the brainchild of former chairman and president/CEO Robert Nardelli, who vacated that office in January.

In the fourth quarter, sales in the HD Supply segment grew by 64.4 percent for a total of $2.9 billion, reflecting sales from acquired businesses. For the year, sales totaled $12.1 billion, a 161.6 percent gain over fiscal 2005, driven by organic growth and sales from acquired businesses, according to Home Depot.

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