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Home Depot Forecasts Slowing Sales Gains

Warmer-than-normal temperatures drew customers buying flowers, garden supplies and building materials for outdoor projects. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg
Warmer-than-normal temperatures drew customers buying flowers, garden supplies and building materials for outdoor projects. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Home Depot Inc., the largest U.S. home-improvement retailer, forecast that sales this year will slow from the first quarter because warm weather pulled forward purchases of plants and gardening equipment.

First-quarter revenue rose 5.9 percent to $17.8 billion, Atlanta-based Home Depot said today in a statement. That trailed analysts’ $18 billion average estimate. Sales this year will advance 4.6 percent, the company said.

Warmer-than-normal temperatures accelerated sales of outdoor items, raising concern that second-quarter sales would slow. Same-store sales decelerated during the course of the first quarter, rising 5.4 percent in April after advancing 6 percent in March and 6.2 percent in February, Chief Financial Officer Carol Tome told analysts today.

“How much sales were pulled forward from later in the year is the question weighing on investors’ minds,” John Tomlinson, an analyst at ITG Investment Research in New York, said today by telephone. He doesn’t rate Home Depot shares.

Profit this year will be $2.90 a share, including the benefits of share repurchases and the termination of a loan guarantee, up from a projection of $2.79 in February. Analysts estimated $2.91, on average.

Home Depot fell 2.4 percent to $48.67 at the close in New York. The shares have advanced 16 percent this year.

Customers spent an average of $54.51 per visit in the quarter, up 2.2 percent from a year earlier, Home Depot said. Sales at stores open at least a year gained 5.8 percent.

Net income in the quarter ended April 29 increased 27 percent to $1.04 billion, or 68 cents a share, from $812 million, or 50 cents a year earlier. Excluding some items, profit was 65 cents a share, matching the average estimate of 25 analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

(Home Depot held a conference call with analysts today. Click HD US <Equity> EVT <GO> for a replay.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Burritt in Greensboro at cburritt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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