Back in November, I was concerned Home Depot's valuation was pretty full. I was also worried that the company was facing tough back-half comparisons. In fact, it kind of freaked me out that Home Depot was facing tough comparisons for the next three quarters. Lowe's (LOW) - Get Lowe's Companies, Inc. (LOW) Report looked like a better buy because of its lower valuation.
The day after my article, Home Depot reported third-quarter fiscal year 2017 (ended January) earnings of $1.60 per share on a 6.1% increase in revenue. Same-store sales for the third quarter were 5.5% and comp sales for the U.S. were up 5.9%.
In the year earlier quarter, Home Depot reported a 5.1% comp, so the company just squeaked by with that 5.5% number. Investors rejoiced and drove the shares higher.
But next Tuesday, Home Depot is up against a 7.1% fourth-quarter same-store sales figure from a year earlier and faces a stiff first-quarter comp of 6.5% down the road.
Analysts are looking for fourth-quarter EPS of $1.33 on $21.73 billion of revenue. For the year, earnings are projected to come in at $6.34 per share on $94.13 billion in revenue, a rise of 6.3%.
For FY 2018, the consensus EPS estimate is $7.16 on $98.3 billion in revenue, up 4%. Using Home Depot's five-year historical multiple of 21 times forward estimates, the stock should be able to reach $150, assuming it can beat those tough fourth- and first-quarter comps.
Since the summer of 2011, when the stock began to significantly outperform the S&P 500, it's been tough to bet against the company.
While I'm still worried about valuation and same-store sales, Home Depot can likely keep hammering out solid performance.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.