Home Depot shares jump after earnings rise

Shares in the DIY retailer have advanced 3% today after the company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and a big hike in its quarterly dividend.

Home Depot’s share price has faltered somewhat this year after a couple of years of almost relentless gains: its value gained more than 90% over the two-year course of 2012 and 2013.

The company sells a huge selection of products in the home-improvement field to both professional consumers and the DIY market and therefore profited greatly from the housing recovery that accompanied the Fed’s accommodative monetary policy.

The housing market has slowed somewhat in recent months though, as higher mortgage rates and home prices have begun to weigh. Added to this has been extremely cold weather this winter which has hampered home sales and the wider economy in general.

Home Depot said today that it earned $1.01 billion or $0.73 per share in its fourth quarter, comfortably higher than earnings of $0.68 per share in the same period last year and surpassing the $0.71 per share that had been expected by Wall Street analysts.

The company missed estimates for revenue, though, with sales falling 3% to $17.7 billion versus a consensus estimate of $17.92 billion. The quarter was one week shorter than the year before. Sales for US stores open at least a year were up 4.9% though.

The DIY chain offered a lower  fiscal outlook for 2014 than analysts had predicted, but raised its quarterly dividend by 21%.

Home Depot shares were up 3.1% by mid-afternoon in New York. Competitor Lowe's reports tomorrow.

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