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Shares of


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

were up after the company posted a 35% increase in third-quarter profit. The company cited a strong housing market and a refinancing boom.

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Shares were up $1.50, or 3.5%, at $44 in early trading Monday, according to Instinet.

Lowe's earned $339.2 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with $250.5 million, or 32 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts were expecting the company to earn 40 cents a share.

Sales rose 18% to $6.41 billion, from $5.45 billion in the same period last year. Comparable-store sales increased 4.1%, the company said.

Wilkesboro, N.C.-based Lowe's expects a fourth-quarter EPS of 33 cents, a penny above analysts' average estimate, and revenue to increase 16% to 17%. The company also expects comparable-store sales to rise 2% to 4%.

For fiscal 2002, the company expects to earn $1.78 a share; analysts expect $1.75 a share.