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Home Depot Fourth-Quarter Net Falls, But Meets Expectations

( Updated from 8:24 a.m. EST)

Earnings Scorecard
Actual Estimated* Year-Ago
$0.20 $0.20 $0.25

Home Depot (HD) reported fourth-quarter earnings that fell from a year ago but met analysts' expectations, amid flat same-store sales that were partly hurt by weak lumber and building materials prices.

The nation's largest home improvement retailer, based in Atlanta, said fourth-quarter earnings were $465 million, or 20 cents a share, down from $578 million, or 25 cents a share, in the same period last year. Twenty analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial expected fourth-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share.

Those earnings expectations were lowered after Home Depot warned in mid January that it's quarter would be disappointing. The company said the slowing economy and falling prices for building materials were responsible for the shortfall. Its competitior, Lowe's (LOW), has been hit with similar problems.

Sales for the fourth quarter were $10.5 billion, up from $9.2 billion last year.

"The uncertainty of the current economy continues to put tremendous pressure on consumer spending," said Home Depot, which also affirmed the Street's first-quarter earnings estimate of 26 cents a share, compared with 27 cents a share in the year-ago period. The retailer, which opened 204 stores during the year, also said it remains confident of controlling its operating expenses, and expects to open 200 new stores during the coming year.

Shares of the company closed at $43 in Friday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, and have a 52-week range of $34.70 and $70.

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