Lowe’s Reports First Quarter Sales and Earnings Results – MarketWatch:

MOORESVILLE, N.C., May 17, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Lowe’s Companies, Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!low/quotes/nls/low (LOW 25.11, -0.96, -3.68%) , the world’s second largest home improvement retailer, today reported net earnings of $489 million for the quarter ended April 30, 2010, a 2.7 percent increase from the same period a year ago. Diluted earnings per share increased 6.3 percent to $0.34 from $0.32 in the first quarter of 2009. Sales for the quarter increased 4.7 percent to $12.4 billion, up from $11.8 billion in the first quarter of 2009. Comparable store sales for the first quarter increased 2.4 percent. “Consumers are showing signs of reengagement in home improvement, including discretionary projects and purchases of bigger ticket products, which had taken a back seat during the worst of the economic downturn,” commented Robert A. Niblock, Lowe’s chairman and CEO. “This, combined with the government stimulus programs and favorable weather in March and April, drove solid quarterly sales and earnings that exceeded our guidance. “While we are optimistic we will experience solid demand through the balance of the year, we view 2010 as a year of transition for our industry. We remain confident that our commitment to providing excellent customer service, combined with great merchandising, will drive profitable sales and market share growth.” During the quarter, Lowe’s opened 11 stores. As of April 30, 2010, Lowe’s operated 1,721 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico representing 194.3 million square feet of retail selling space, a 2.9 percent increase over last year. A conference call to discuss first quarter 2010 operating results is scheduled for today (Monday, May 17) at 9:00 am EDT. The conference call will be available through a webcast and can be accessed by visiting Lowe’s website at www.Lowes.com/investor and clicking on Lowe’s First Quarter 2010 Earnings Conference Call Webcast. A replay of the call will be archived on Lowes.com until August 15, 2010. Lowe’s Business Outlook Second Quarter 2010 (comparisons to second quarter 2009) — The company expects to open approximately 4 new stores reflecting square footage growth of approximately 2 percent — Total sales are expected to increase 5 to 7 percent — The company expects comparable store sales to increase 2 to 4 percent — Earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales (operating margin) is expected to increase approximately 40 basis points — Depreciation expense is expected to be approximately $400 million — Diluted earnings per share of $0.57 to $0.59 are expected — Lowe’s second quarter ends on July 30, 2010 with operating results to be publicly released on Monday, August 16, 2010 Fiscal Year 2010 (comparisons to fiscal year 2009) — The company expects to open 40 to 45 stores in 2010 reflecting total square footage growth of approximately 2 percent — Total sales are expected to increase 5 to 7 percent — The company expects comparable store sales to increase 2 to 4 percent — Earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales (operating margin) is expected to increase approximately 60 basis points — Depreciation expense is expected to be approximately $1.60 billion — Diluted earnings per share of $1.37 to $1.47 are expected for the fiscal year ending January 28, 2011