(By Balachander) Lowe's Companies Inc. (NYSE:LOW) reduced its forecast for the full year after the home improvement retailer posted lower quarterly results that also fell short of market expectations amid a contraction in margins.
Earnings per share (EPS) of 64 cents for the second quarter remained flat with the comparable period of last year, while Wall Street analysts projected 70 cents. Net earnings fell to 10 percent to $747 million.
Net sales dropped 2 percent to $14.24 billion, versus consensus estimate of $14.46 billion. Comparable store sales declined 0.4 percent.
Gross margin contracted to 33.93 percent from 34.49 percent for the three-month period ended August 3.
"Our results fell short of our overall expectations," commented chief executive Robert Niblock. "While we recognize the significant magnitude of change that we've asked the organization to absorb as we transform our business, we fully understand that we must improve our level of execution."
Looking ahead for the full year ending Feb. 1, the company now expects EPS of about $1.64 from prior expectations of $1.73 to $1.83. It currently forecasts flat sales, down from between 1 percent to 2 percent growth projected earlier. Analysts expect EPS of $1.80 on sales of $50.57 billion.
Lowe's now expects comparable store sales to increase roughly 0.5 percent versus previous outlook for growth of 1 percent to 3 percent.
Last week, rival Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) raised its earnings forecast following its second-quarter results. The world's largest home improvement retailer posted higher quarterly earnings as consumers spent more amid continued demand for its products.
Earnings from retailers come amid cautious spending by consumers amid challenging economic conditions.
As of August 3, 2012, Lowe's operated 1,748 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
LOW closed Friday's regular trading at $27.87. The stock has been trading in the 52-week range between $18.28 and $32.29.