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Home Depot earnings beat despite wet start to spring

Key Points
  • Home Depot beats on the top and bottom lines for its quarterly earnings.
  • The nation’s largest home improvement retailer reaffirms its guidance for fiscal 2019.
  • The company's same-store sales growth has moderated. 
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Home Depot earnings beat: $2.27 a share, vs $2.18 EPS expected

Home Depot on Tuesday reported fiscal first-quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations, despite record-breaking wet weather in February and falling lumber prices.

Sales performance came in below the company's expectations, Home Depot's CEO Craig Menear said on the company's earnings call. He attributed this to the month of February being the second wettest on record in the U.S. and the decline in lumber prices, which hurt sales growth. However, Menear, was "pleased" with the underlying performance of its core business. 

Home Depot shares were recently up less than 1% in afternoon trading.

Here's how the company did, compared with what Wall Street expected, according to Refinitiv consensus estimates:

  • Earnings per share: $2.27, vs. $2.18 expected
  • Revenue: $26.381 billion, vs. $26.378 billion expected

Same-store sales growth has moderated for the nation’s largest home improvement retailer. Sales at stores open at least 12 months rose 2.5% on a global basis and were up 3% in the U.S. This was shy of the 4.2% estimate from Refinitiv, but it wasn't immediately clear if the numbers were comparable due to an extra week in the year-ago quarter.

"If you ignore the weather and lumber prices, comps would have been closer to 4.5%," the retailer's CFO Carol Tome said on the earnings call.

Tome said February was the only month of the quarter with negative same-store sales both globally and domestically. Globally, comparable sales were down 2% in February, up 5.6% in March and up 3.2% in April. In the U.S., comparable sales were down 1.9% in February, up 6.1% in March and up 4% in April.

Seventeen of 19 regions in the U.S. reported negative same-store sales in February, while only two regions reported same-store sales declines for the quarter, said Tome.

In the quarter ended May 5, net income rose to $2.5 billion, or $2.27 a share, from $2.4 billion, or $2.08 a diluted share, a year earlier. Analysts were predicting the company would earn $2.18 a share.

Revenue climbed 5.7% to $26.381 billion, slightly above Refinitiv's consensus estimate of $26.378 billion.

Home Depot said customer transactions were up 3.8% during the quarter, while the average shopper's ticket increased 2%, and sales per square foot were up 5.6%.

"While the economy generally played ball, the weather did not and a very wet start to the year across many parts of the country meant that spending on items for outdoor projects was down considerably," said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. "However, as we have seen before, much of this spend is merely delayed and tends to get pushed into other periods. In any case, we believe that Home Depot managed to navigate this slip in demand far better than rivals, including Lowe's. "

Oppenheimer's Brian Nagel told CNBC's "Squawk Box " that improving weather is a good sign for the stock.

"As weather is turning more spring-like … sales in this category are picking up. With Home Depot, that's going to imply a pretty strong second quarter," he said.

The company reaffirmed its guidance for fiscal 2019, which estimates earnings will rise 3.1% to $10.03 per share. Same-store sales are expected to grow 5%, while revenue increases 3.3%.

"Our view on the U.S. economy and the drivers of home improvement spend are not fundamentally different from what we shared with you back in February," said Menear.

Home Depot expects a roughly $1 billion impact on the company from a round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, which were increased to 20% from 10%. However, it hadn't yet estimated the impact from the latest round of 25% tariffs, and that impact wasn't factored into its earnings forecast. 

Home Depot opened two new stores in the first quarter, bringing the company's total to 2,289 stores.

As of Monday's market close, Home Depot market value was $210.6 billion, with shares up more than 11% this year and but less than 1% over the past 12 months. Lowe's, which is set to report earnings before the bell Wednesday, is up 18% since January and 24% over the past 12 months. It has a market cap of $86.9 billion.

Correction: Last quarter, Home Depot's forecast was viewed as disappointing. An earlier story incorrectly said the company cut its forecast. In addition, it is unclear how Home Depot same-store sales compare with estimates, since the company reported its results on a 52-week basis. Last year, its fiscal first quarter had 53 weeks. An earlier headline said same-store sales fell short.

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