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Lowe's

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

said its third-quarter earnings should be in line or slightly higher than analysts' projections and indicated that same-store sales are trending above plan.

The seller of home-improvement products now expects to earn 52 cents to 53 cents a share in the quarter ending Oct. 31, compared with analysts' consensus estimate of 52 cents a share.

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Previously, the company had guided for a profit of 50 cents to 51 cents a share. Lowe's earned 43 cents a share in the prior-year quarter. Lowe's also cited the improving economy and customers' "continued commitment to invest in their homes" as other reasons for the increased guidance.

The company has previously predicted that same-store sales would increase 5% to 6% in the quarter.

For fiscal 2004, the company sees a profit of $2.27 to $2.28 a share, which also matches analysts' average forecast of $2.27 a share.

In 2004 and 2005, the company said it plans to add 140 to 150 new stores. As a result, the company forecast 17% increases in sales for both years. The company also projects that earnings will increase 14% to 15% in 2004 and 25% to 26% in 2005.

Shares of Lowe's were rising 16 cents, or 0.3%, to $53.27.