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Lowe's Laid Low by Ugly Economy

The home improvement retailer blamed a 'challenging sales environment' for lower sales and profits.

Updated from 9:18 a.m. EDT

The shaky U.S. economy cut into home improvement retailer


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

first-quarter sales and profit, both of which slipped from a year ago.

The Mooresville, N.C.-based retailer reported net earnings of $607 million, or 41 cents a diluted share, vs. $739 million, or 48 cents a diluted share, in the year-ago period. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a profit of 40 cents a share.

Sales slipped 1.3% to $12 billion from the year-ago quarter and comparable store sales fell 8.4%. Analysts had expected sales of $12.36 billion.

Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock blamed a "challenging sales environment" that has lingered for 18 months for the retailer's woes.

"The generally poor economic outlook, including well-known housing pressures, rising food and fuel prices and a more negative employment picture eroded consumer confidence and impacted discretionary purchases for the home," he said in a company statement.

Lowe's also offered second-quarter and full-year outlooks on the light side of Wall Street's expectations. It sees a profit of between 54 cents and 59 cents a diluted share, vs. analysts' forecast of 56 cents a share.

For the full year, the company sees a profit of between $1.45 and $1.55 a diluted share, compared to analysts' expectation of $1.54 a share.

Lowe's shares were falling 3.1% to $24.11 in recent trading Monday.

Lowe's main rival

Home Depot

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is expected to report earnings Tuesday morning. But news for other retailers actually had been looking up last week.


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beat expectations and


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posted in-line results.


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is set to report results Tuesday and

BJ's Wholesale Club

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is expected to post earnings on Wednesday.

This article was written by a staff member of