UPDATE 1-Strong sales help Home Depot outshine Lowe's
Feb 26 (Reuters) - Improvements in the U.S. housing market and sales tied to Hurricane Sandy helped Home Depot Inc report a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and outshine rival Lowe's Cos Inc for the 15th straight quarter.
Tuesday's news came the day after Lowe's gave a fiscal-year operating margin outlook that analysts said did little to boost confidence in its turnaround.
Home Depot's net earnings for the fourth quarter ended on Feb. 3 rose to $1.0 billion, or 68 cents a share, from $774 million, or 50 cents a share, a year earlier.
Excluding a gain from adjusting a charge for China store closures, the company earned 67 cents a share, while analysts on average expected a profit of 64 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales rose 13.9 percent to $18.2 billion, beating the analysts' average estimate of $17.7 billion.
Sales at stores open at least a year rose 7 percent, including a 7.1 percent increase at Home Depot's U.S. stores. This was the 15th straight quarter that the company's same-store sales outpaced those at Lowe's.