“I’d like to thank our employees for their perseverance in a year of significant change, and for their continued dedication to serving customers,” Niblock added.Delivering on the commitment to return excess cash to shareholders, the company repurchased $750 million or 21.3 million shares of stock and paid $180 million in dividends in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the fiscal year, the company repurchased $4.35 billion or 146 million shares of common stock and paid $704 million in dividends. To further deliver on this commitment, the Board of Directors has authorized the repurchase of up to $5 billion of the company’s common stock. The remaining prior authorization was simultaneously terminated. Although this new repurchase authorization has no expiration date, the company expects to use the full amount over the next two years. The repurchases will be subject to market conditions and will be made from time to time either in the open market or through off market private transactions in accordance with the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company’s repurchase program may be suspended, discontinued or resumed at any time. As of February 1, 2013, Lowe’s operated 1,754 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico representing 197.4 million square feet of retail selling space. A conference call to discuss fourth quarter 2012 operating results is scheduled for today (Monday, February 25) at 9:00 am ET. The conference call will be available through a webcast and can be accessed by visiting Lowe’s website at www.Lowes.com/investor and clicking on Lowe’s Fourth Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call Webcast. A replay of the call will be archived on Lowes.com/investor until May 21, 2013. Lowe’s Business Outlook Fiscal Year 2013 (comparisons to fiscal year 2012; based on U.S. GAAP unless otherwise noted)
- Total sales are expected increase approximately 4 percent.
- Comparable store sales are expected to increase approximately 3.5 percent.
- The company expects to open approximately 10 stores in fiscal year 2013.
- Earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales (operating margin) are expected to increase approximately 60 basis points.
- The effective income tax rate is expected to be approximately 38.1%.
- Diluted earnings per share of approximately $2.05 are expected for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2014.