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) -- Home improvement retailer


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said its fourth-quarter earnings topped analyst estimates but its forecast for first-quarter net income fell short of analyst views.

Lowe's forecasts first-quarter earnings of 27 cents a share to 29 cents a share and $1.30 to $1.42 a share for the fiscal year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast first-quarter earnings of 33 cents a share and $1.37 a share for the next fiscal year .

For the fourth quarter, Lowe's beat analyst expectations by 2 cents. The company said earnings rose 26.5% to $205 million, or 14 cents a share. Sales for the quarter increased 1.8% to $10.2 billion, up from $10 billion. Comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter declined 1.6%.

Lowe's said Monday it believes the worst of the economic cycle is likely over.

Lowe's also announced the repurchase of up to $5 billion of the company's common stock.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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