Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW), the world’s second largest home improvement retailer, today reported net earnings of $288 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.26 for the fourth quarter of 2012. For the fiscal year, net earnings were $2.0 billion and diluted earnings per share were $1.69. Lowe’s fiscal year ends on the Friday nearest the end of January; therefore, fourth quarter and fiscal year 2011 included an extra week compared to 2012. As a result of the extra week in 2011, net earnings for the fourth quarter declined 10.6 percent and diluted earnings per share were flat from the fourth quarter of 2011. Net earnings for the fiscal year increased 6.5 percent and diluted earnings per share increased 18.2 percent from fiscal year 2011. Sales for the fourth quarter decreased 5.0 percent to $11.0 billion from $11.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011. For the fiscal year, sales were $50.5 billion, a 0.6% increase over fiscal year 2011. The 53 rd week contributed $766 million to sales and approximately $0.05 to diluted earnings per share in fourth quarter and fiscal year 2011. The quarterly comparisons in 2012 were also impacted by a week shift which negatively impacted sales by $119 million and diluted earnings per share by approximately $0.02 in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the fiscal year, the week shift had an insignificant impact on sales and diluted earnings per share. Comparable store sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 increased 1.9 percent on a consolidated basis as well as for the U.S. business. For the fiscal year, comparable store sales increased 1.4 percent, while comparable store sales for the U.S. business increased 1.5 percent. Comparable store sales are based on comparable 13-week and 52-week periods, respectively. “We delivered solid results in the fourth quarter,” commented Robert A. Niblock, Lowe’s chairman, president and CEO. “Our results are a testament to the team’s success in driving more balanced performance across the quarter, our response to the demand created by recovery efforts in the wake of superstorm Sandy, and the momentum we’re creating with our initiatives.