Lowe’s Earnings, Lowered Guidance Disappoint Investors

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Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) reported second-quarter 2016 results before markets opened Wednesday. The home improvement retailer posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.68 and $19.5 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, Lowe’s reported EPS of $1.31 on revenue of $18.3 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $1.61 and $19.53 billion in revenue.

Same-store sales increased 4.5% in the quarter and rose 4.6% for U.S. stores. Net income rose 21.6% in the quarter to $1.4 billion. Net income includes a $96 million gain from the sale of the company’s sale of its interest in an Australian joint venture. Excluding one-time items, Lowe’s earnings totaled $1.57 per share, missing the consensus estimate.

In its guidance, the company pegged full-year 2017 sales to rise about 5% year over year. Same-store sales are expected to increase 3.5% as well. Diluted earnings per share are forecast at in a range of $4.20 to $4.30. The consensus analysts’ estimate for EPS is currently $4.62 and the revenue estimate is $68.25 billion. The revenue estimate reflects an increase of 4.96% year over year.

The company also lowered its estimate of operating margin from a prior forecast for an increase of 120 basis points to a new range of 80 to 100 basis points.

Lowe’s CEO, Robert Niblock, said:

While our results were below our expectations in the first half of this year, the team remains focused on making the necessary investments to improve the customer experience and drive sales. This includes amplifying our consumer messaging and incremental customer-facing hours in our stores which will put pressure on our operating margin. We believe this is the right strategy to more fully capitalize on strong traffic trends in what we believe is a supportive macroeconomic backdrop for home improvement.

The company also said it has repurchased $2.5 billion worth of stock under its share buyback program and paid $603 million in dividends in the first half of its 2017 fiscal year.

Shares of Lowe’s closed up about 2.7% on Wednesday, at $75.82, in a 52-week range of $64.87 to $86.25. The stock traded down about 4% in Wednesday’s premarket session to $72.79. The consensus 12-month price target was $88.69 before the results were announced. The highest price target is $100.00.