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MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (


) --


(LOW) - Get Lowe's Companies, Inc. Report

earned $285 million, or 21 cents a share, in its fiscal fourth quarter, up 39% from a year earlier and above analysts' estimates.

The No. 2 home-improvement retailer, behind rival

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. Report

, said quarterly sales rose 3.1% to $10.5 billion. Comparable-store sales increased 1.1%.

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Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected Lowe's to earn 18 cents a share on revenue of $10.45 billion.

"While uncertainty in the market remains, the economic recovery is continuing," said Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock added. "We are committed to delivering better customer experiences and expect to grow market share in 2011 as we make continued progress on our key initiatives."

Lowe's said Wednesday it expects first-quarter earnings of 34 cents to 38 cents a share. Total sales are expected to increase by about 2%, while comparable-store sales are seen flat, the company said.

Home Depot

on Tuesday said its adjusted quarterly earnings rose 50% to 36 cents a share, beating analysts' consensus estimate by 18%.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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