The board of Home Depot ( HD) approved a repurchase program covering up to $500 million of the company's shares, and the announcement helped lift the stock of the home improvement products seller Friday morning. During 2002, Home Depot completed a $2 billion share repurchase program, buying back about 69 million common shares. The company ended 2002 with $2.3 billion in cash. The new buyback plan will allow the company to repurchase its shares on the open market from time to time. "Our strong cash position and stellar financial condition also provide us with the opportunity to invest in our shareholders," the company said. Shares of Home Depot were recently up 73 cents, or 2%, to $32.29 on the New York Stock Exchange. Additionally, the company, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, said it plans to invest $4 billion in new stores, remodelings and other initiatives this year. Home Depot said in February that it expects to open 200 new stores and add 40,000 employees in 2003. At the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002, the company operated 1,532 stores, including 1,370 Home Depot stores in the U.S.