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Lowe's Never Stops Improving

Stocks in this article: LOW HD WMT WY LPX

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The last time we discussed Lowe's (LOW), I said that for its own good and for the sake of investors, the retail giant, which is immured in a battle with rival Home Depot (HD), had better start improving.

Contrary to what some readers believed, I didn't think that was a huge demand. After all, "improving" is in the company's slogan. But here's the thing: Even though I wasn't particularly enamored with Lowe's recent performances, I still believed that Lowe's stock, which did not fully reflect the company's long-term potential, was a strong buy.

By contrast, I felt that shares of Home Depot had reached their peak. This is even though no one could disagree that Home Depot had meaningfully outperformed Lowe's on an operational basis.

Investors disagreed.

The market had fallen in love with Home Depot, while overstating much of Lowe's weaknesses, many of which clearly just near-term struggles. In the span of two months, though, shares of Lowe's have been up by more than 12%, while Home Depot has traded flat.

And after a solid quarter, during which management raised guidance, investors should expect more of the same stock outperformance.

Now, this is not a situation where I'm going to try to make Lowe's appear like the better company in this duopoly. I believe more improvements need to be made before that happens.

Still, after coming off a May quarter, during which management blamed (among other things) the weather for the company's disappointing results, Lowe's was able to grow revenue this quarter by 10% while also raising guidance. That's a strong statement.

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