Home Depot earnings, sales top Wall Street expectations as traffic spikes

  • Home Depot's fourth-quarter earnings and sales top Wall Street's expectations.
  • The company raises its quarterly dividend by 15.7 percent to $1.03 a share.
  • Home Depot reaffirms its sales outlook for 2020.

Home Depot on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings and sales that topped Wall Street's expectations, as more shoppers flocked to its stores and spent more per trip.

The home improvement retailer's stock was climbing around 1 percent Tuesday morning on the news.

Here's what Home Depot reported compared with what analysts were expecting, based on a Thomson Reuters survey:

  • Earnings per share: $1.69, adjusted, vs. $1.61 expected
  • Revenue: $23.9 billion vs. $23.7 billion expected
  • Same-store sales: an increase of 7.5 percent vs. 6 percent expected

"Our ongoing commitment to enhance the interconnected retail experience for our customers, provide localized and innovative product, and deliver best in class productivity resulted in record sales and net earnings for 2017," CEO and Chairman Craig Menear said in a statement.

Home Depot reported net income for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017 of $1.8 billion, or $1.52 a share, compared with $1.7 billion, or $1.44 per share, a year ago. Excluding one-time items, the retailer earned $1.69 a share. Its expenses during the period included bonus payments and impacts from new U.S. tax legislation.

Revenue climbed 7.5 percent from a year ago to $23.9 billion. The company said its customer transactions rose 2 percent, while the average ticket increased 5.5 percent (to $64 per person). Same-store sales — a key metric for retailers — were also up a whopping 7.5 percent.

"Home Depot is selling more appliances … that helps that ticket," Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Brian Nagel told CNBC. "It's also a function of where we are in the housing market. ... We are starting to see people take money out of their homes and undertake larger-ticket remolding activity."

Hurricane recovery efforts further boosted Home Depot's revenues, as consumers across the southern parts of the U.S. and Puerto Rico continued to invest in rebuilding homes that were destroyed toward the end of 2017.

The Atlanta-based company also on Tuesday raised its quarterly dividend, for the ninth-consecutive year, by 15.7 percent to $1.03 a share.

Coming off a strong year, Home Depot is looking to grow even more in the coming months. The company expects its sales will rise by about 6.5 percent in fiscal 2018 and same-store sales will be up 5 percent. It has also reaffirmed its outlook for 2020, calling for as much as $120 billion in sales by then.

The home improvement retailer continues to thrive alongside its rival Lowe's, as their business models are much more difficult to replicate online. Amazon, for example, hasn't had much success in this area and has focused its investments elsewhere.

Home Depot is also bringing new merchandise to its stores, having recently signed a deal with Tesla to sell the carmaker's residential solar panels and Powerwall (batteries) at 800 Home Depot locations.

"Favorable economic tailwinds, especially from the housing market, have been the fuel powering [Home Depot's] growth," said Neil Saunders of GlobalData Retail. "Fortunately, this dynamic looks set to continue into 2018 as a shortage of housing in many US markets is keeping prices inflated while demand remains strong."

Home Depot shares have climbed more than 31 percent from a year ago.