Home Depot beats earnings estimates and raises sales outlook as consumers keep spending on homes

  • Home Depot now expects sales in fiscal 2018 to grow 7.2 percent, up from a previous outlook of 7 percent.
  • It says sales per square foot during the third quarter were up 5.2 percent from a year ago, customer transactions rose 1.4 percent and the average shopper's ticket was up 3.6 percent.
  • The company warns it still faces tough comparisons because of devastating storms last year.

Home Depot on Tuesday reported quarterly earnings that beat analysts' expectations and raised its sales outlook for the full year, showing little sign of slowing down despite concerns about softening existing home sales.

Management warned during a conference call with analysts the company will still face tougher comparisons in the foreseeable future because of devastating storms late last year. In the fourth quarter, Home Depot will be comparing against roughly $380 million in hurricane sales booked during the fourth quarter in 2017, CFO Carol Tome said.

Home Depot shares initially rose in premarket trading but closed the day down less than 1 percent.

Here's what Home Depot reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $2.51 vs. $2.26 expected
  • Revenue: $26.30 billion vs. $26.26 billion expected
  • Same-store sales: up 4.8 percent globally vs. growth of 4.7 percent expected

For much of the year, confidence in the U.S. housing market has been soaring, benefiting Home Depot and rival Lowe's. But with mortgage rates climbing, attitudes had started to turn sour. This may lead to home prices rising at a slower rate and the market cooling down.

Still, Home Depot CEO Craig Menear said Tuesday there is continued "overall strength of demand in the home improvement market," prompting the company to hike its outlook for fiscal 2018.

Home Depot reported fiscal third-quarter net income of $2.9 billion, or $2.51 per share, up from $2.2 billion, or $1.84 per share, a year earlier. Earnings per share came in better than the $2.26 expected by analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Net sales rose roughly 5 percent from a year ago to $26.30 billion, slightly beating expectations of $26.26 billion.

Sales at stores open for at least 12 months were up 4.8 percent globally and up 5.4 percent in the United States. Home Depot said sales per square foot were up 5.2 percent from a year ago, customer transactions rose 1.4 percent, and the average shopper's ticket was up 3.6 percent.

Looking to the full year, Home Depot now expects sales to grow roughly 7.2 percent, up from a previous outlook of just 7 percent. It says same-store sales should be up 5.5 percent, up from 5.3 percent.

Analysts anticipate Home Depot may have an opportunity to gain market share in the appliance category after Sears filed for bankruptcy protection and continues to shut stores.

"There's been a lot of concern out there in the marketplace about a slowdown in housing," Brian Nagel, Oppenheimer senior equity research analyst, told CNBC. "As I look through [Home Depot's] results, I'm not seeing it. ... The underlying demand for housing seems to be quite good. That typically goes back to jobs growth."

Given low unemployment, consumers are feeling confident enough to invest in home projects.

Home Depot also said Tuesday it now expects to complete roughly $8 billion in share repurchases for the year, up from initial plans for $6 billion.

As of Monday's market close, Home Depot shares are up about 12 percent from a year ago to trade around $183.

Correction: An earlier version misstated the day of Menear's comments. It was Tuesday.