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Despite strong year, Lowe's remains cautious in 2014

Home improvement store posts 5.6% increase in sales

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Home improvement store Lowe's (LOW) reported net income of $306 million for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, up 6.3% from the same period a year prior.

Earnings per share increased 11.5% to 29 cents from 26 cents in the fourth quarter of 2012.

For the full year, net earnings increased 16.7% to $2.3 billion and earnings per share grew 26.6% to $2.14. 

When it comes to sales numbers for the quarter, Lowe's recorded a 5.6% increase to $11.7 billion from $11 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012.

For the fiscal year, sales reached $53.4 billion, up 5.7% over fiscal year 2012.

"During the quarter, we delivered solid performance in core home improvement categories, balancing softer sales of seasonal gifts and holiday decorations. When extreme winter weather arrived late in the quarter, our distribution network responded quickly and efficiently to move product where it was most needed," Robert Niblock, Lowe's chairman, president and CEO, said.   

Looking ahead, the company estimates that total sales will increase approximately 5%, while earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales are expected to increase approximately 65 basis points.

Earnings are heavily driven by employment, home prices, housing turned and homeownership levels, and if those bode well, it should create a more favorable environment for consumer spending, the earnings noted.

“Our Consumer Sentiment Survey suggests a continued willingness for consumers to invest in their homes,” the report stated. “However, there has been a recent slowdown in both housing activity and jobs growth which makes us cautious.” 

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