Weather Clouding Economic Picture: Home Depot CEO
Home Depot had a strong fourth quarter, thanks to unusually mild winter weather, CEO Frank Blake told CNBC Thursday, but that same mild weather is making it unclear just how strong the economic recovery really is.
"We're seeing a continuation of nice warm weather in a lot of the country as we go into our first quarter," he said in an interview on "Squawk on the Street." "It's going to be a little difficult for us to get a good gauge on the consumer until we normalize the weather impacts through the year."
In the fourth quarter, Home Depot had its strongest quarter since the housing bubble, Blake said. The contractor business — known at Home Depot as the pro — accounts for 35 percent of its business. During the 2008-2009 downturn, that business was off by double digits, much worse than the company's consumer business.
"What we have seen recently is the pro coming back [at] about the same sort of increase as the consumer" segment, Blake said. Within the pro segment, "the larger pros seem to be doing better than the smaller pros, which would make sense in terms of a recovery process."
While he's been heartened by recent comments of Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase'sJamie Dimon that the housing market is improving, "there are still some headwinds," Blake said. "We're not planning for a strong recovery."