(LOW) - Get Report

said on Monday that its first-quarter profits grew 54% from last year, beating analyst estimates as consumers continued to show interest in home improvement.

The nation's second-largest home improvement retailer said its first-quarter net income was $345.8 million, or 44 cents a share, 53.5% above last year's $225.2 million, or 29 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call had been expecting 36 cents a share.

Sales for the quarter grew 23% to $6.47 billion from $5.28 billion in the year-ago quarter, led by same-store increases of 7.5%. The company opened 46 new stores and closed one store during the quarter.

In a press release, Lowe's said, "We continued to experience favorable business trends similar to those realized in the fourth quarter of last year. Our customers continued to demonstrate an eagerness to maintain, decorate, and improve their homes even against a backdrop of mixed economic data."

For the second quarter, the company expects to see sales growth of 21% to 22% from the year-ago quarter, with comparable-store sales growth of 4% to 6% and EPS of 53 cents to 54 cents. First Call analysts are looking for 51 cents a share.

For the full fiscal year, Lowe's forecast total sales growth of 19% to 20%, with a comparable-store sales increase of about 5%. Earnings per share are expected to be in the range of $1.66 to $1.69, ahead of analyst estimates of $1.58.

Shares of Lowe's were recently gaining almost 5% to $46.90 on the news after closing at $44.76 Friday.