The ongoing U.S. housing recovery continues to make the home improvement space one of the best in retail to be in. After all, a contractor can't buy pallets of sheet-rock or lumber off Amazon (AMZN) and have it instantly delivered to a job site.
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Shares of Lowe's (LOW) jumped 11% to $82.58 in early trading on Wednesday after the company blew past expectations for the fourth quarter and issued an upbeat full-year outlook.
Adjusted earnings of 86 cents a share beat analyst forecasts of 79 cents a share. Revenue came in at $15.78 billion, above analyst estimates of $15.39 billion.
Comparable-store sales rose 5.1% during the quarter, better than the FactSet consensus for 2.4% growth.
"We leveraged our omni-channel platform, customer experience design capabilities, and project expertise to drive strong holiday performance and capitalize on broad-based project demand throughout the quarter," CEO Robert Niblock said in a statement.
For fiscal 2017, Lowe's sees earnings of about $4.64 a share, much higher than Wall Street's projections of $4.53 a share. Comparable-store sales are forecast to rise about 3.5%, while total sales should increase about 5% for the full year.
Niblock said the company entered 2017 well-positioned to capitalize on a "favorable macroeconomic backdrop for home improvement."
Lowe's results shouldn't exactly come as a shocker.
Home Depot also continues to do well
Bigger rival Home Depot (HD) is fresh off monster earnings beat, delivering fourth-quarter earnings of $1.44 a share vs. analyst expectations of $1.33. Same-store sales rose a solid 5.8%, surpassing Wall Street estimates for a 3.5% increase. Home Depot's same-store sales in the U.S. gained 6.2%, helped by continued demand for building materials from contractors and appliances on the part of consumers.
The company hiked its quarterly dividend by 29% and enacted a new $15 billion share repurchase program.
Comparable-store sales results were strong, more than double what analysts had expected, TheStreet's Jim Cramer, manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, said on CNBC's "Mad Dash" segment.
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Even though Home Depot did terrific last quarter, Cramer argued that Lowe's seemingly did even better. That's why shares are up more than 10% Wednesday.
Consumers aren't going out to the malls and hanging out. Instead, they are staying home, playing video games, ordering pizza and fixing up their house, he reasoned. And just wait until spring, which is like the holiday season for Home Depot and Lowe's as consumers look to fix up their house and complete projects once the weather improves.
Another big driver behind these companies' good results? Amazon doesn't play as big of a role. Home Depot and Lowe's have a helpful staff, plenty of product choices and good prices, Cramer concluded.
Despite the post-election rise in mortgage rates that has made buying a home more expensive, the backdrop for Home Depot, Lowe's and other companies tied to the U.S. housing recovery such as appliance maker Whirlpool (WHR) remains favorable. Home values are still rising and the employment market is healthy, which is spurring people to invest in home remodeling projects.
The national median existing-home price in the fourth quarter was $235,000, up 5.7% from a year ago, according to the National Association of Retailers. The median sales price of a single-family home increased in 158 out of 178 metropolitan areas during the fourth quarter, or about 90% of these markets, the NAR said.
The home remodeling index reached a new all-time high of 106.1 in the fourth quarter, a 4.5% increase from a year earlier, noted Metrostudy. The index has now seen nineteen consecutive quarters of year over year gains dating back to 2011.
Meanwhile, the construction of new homes amid tight supply continues to fuel demand for building materials such as plywood and shingles by contractors. Housing starts are fresh off their strongest year since 2007.
Existing home sales clocked in at 5.45 million for 2016, up from 5.25 million notched in 2015.
Updated from 9:22 a.m. ET to include Jim Cramer's comments.