Can Lowe’s Top Home Depot’s Q4 Report?

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Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) is scheduled to release its most recent quarterly results before the markets open on Wednesday. Consensus estimates call for $0.79 in earnings per share (EPS) and $15.74 billion in revenue. The fiscal fourth quarter of last year reportedly had $0.74 in EPS and $15.49 billion in revenue.

In January, Lowe’s announced that it plans to add more than 65,000 jobs this year. The number is huge, given that it employs 310,000 people today. It is a sign of the company’s optimism about the housing market, which is one of the largest engines of the U.S. economy.

Lowe’s management said the jobs are an investment in customer service. The company assumes that the improvement will help it get new customers and maintain its current customer base.

The decision is also an addition to the belief of some economists that rapid job growth in America is not over. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 312,000 jobs in December, one of the highest totals since the end of the Great Recession. While the retail industry has been shedding jobs in general, the Lowe’s decision shows the healthier ones are moving in the opposite direction.

The jobs will be added in three of Lowe’s large operations. More than 50,000 seasonal positions will be added for the spring indoor and door period. Presumably, many of these jobs will disappear after summer. Almost 10,000 permanent associates will join what Lowe’s calls it Merchandising Service Team, which manages inventory. And about 6,000 will be added to what Lowe’s calls full-time assistant store manager and department supervisor roles. That will be to bolster customer service.

Excluding Tuesday’s move, Lowe’s had outperformed the broad markets, with the stock up about 14% year to date. In the past 52 weeks, the stock was up 8%.

Shares of Lowe’s were last seen down 1% at $103.91, in a 52-week range of $81.16 to $117.70. The consensus price target is $111.00.

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