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

maintained that it is comfortable with analysts' earnings estimates for the third and fourth quarters and said it plans to open 95 new stores this year and about 125 new stores in 2001.


First Call/Thomson Financial

survey of 22 analysts produced a consensus estimate of 53 cents a share for the company's third quarter. Analysts expect fourth-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share.

The company also announced an expanded agreement with



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to add 60 new NationsRent outlets in Lowe's stores by the end of 2001.

Last Friday, shares of Lowe's hit a 52-week low after the world's second-largest home-improvement retailer projected that same-store sales would fall below expectations, despite the company's assurances that earnings estimates remained on target.

The company's main competitor,

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. Report

, warned investors yesterday that its third-quarter profits would be lower than expected, due to falling prices for lumber and other building materials, sending its shares to a 52-week low.

Shares of Lowe's recently traded higher by $1, or 2.6%, to $38.81, while Home Depot saw its shares rise $1.06, or 3%, to $35.94 on the

New York Stock Exchange