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Nov 16, 2016

Lowe's cuts outlook on meagre in-store traffic

Lowe's

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MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Lowe's (LOW.N) was beset by hefty charges and meagre traffic in its stores for most of the third quarter, and its profit suffered for it.

A day after rival Home Depot (HD.N) posted banner results and boosted its outlook for the year, Lowe's fell drastically short of Wall Street expectations and cut its annual outlook, again.

Its shares fell 3.6 per cent in afternoon trading Wednesday.

For the three months ended Oct. 28, Lowe's earned US$379 million, or 43 cents per share. A year ago the Mooresville, North Carolina, company earned US$736 million, or 80 cents per share.

The current quarter's results included US$462 million in charges related to the winding down of its Hydrox joint venture, writing off projects that were cancelled and goodwill and impairment charges. Stripping out these charges, earnings were 88 cents per share.

Analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research expected 96 cents per share.

Revenue rose to US$15.74 billion from US$14.36 billion, but that was also shy of most analysts' projections.

Historically low mortgage rates have been helping to boost the housing market, along with refinancing that is typically used for home improvements.

Home sales this year have levelled off at a nearly healthy level of 5.5 million. Mortgage News Daily this week reported that 30-year fixed rate mortgages hit 4 per cent. That's up from the 3.57 per cent rate that was reported last Thursday by mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock said sales, after beginning slowly, had begun to recover by October.

Sales at stores open at least a year climbed 2.7 per cent. This figure is a key indicator of a retailer's health because it excludes results the volatility from locations recently opened or closed.

For fiscal 2016, Lowe's Cos. now anticipates earnings of about US$3.52 per share. Revenue is expected to rise 9 per cent to 10 per cent, with sales at stores open at least a year up 3 per cent to 4 per cent.

Its prior forecast was for earnings of about US$4.06 per share, which had been lowered from an earlier projection of US$4.11.

Lowe's had also predicted that revenue would be up approximately 10 per cent and same-store sales would climb about 4 per cent.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect full-year earnings of US$4.00 per share.

Lowe's shares dropped US$2.47, or 3.6 per cent, to US$66.58 in afternoon trading. Its shares are down 7 per cent versus a year ago.

Lowe's had 2,119 home improvement and hardware stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico at the third-quarter's end.