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Lowe's Reports First Quarter Sales and Earnings Results

MOORESVILLE, N.C., May 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW), the world's second-largest home improvement retailer, today reported net earnings of $476 million for the quarter ended May 1, 2009, a 21.6 percent decline versus the same period a year ago. Diluted earnings per share declined 22.0 percent to $0.32 from $0.41 in the first quarter of 2008.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20031205/LOWLOGO )

Sales for the quarter declined 1.5 percent to $11.8 billion, down from $12.0 billion in the first quarter of 2008. Comparable store sales for the first quarter declined 6.6 percent.

"Despite the difficult external environment, Lowe's strong commitment to customer service and a compelling product offering led to continued market share gains in the first quarter and helped deliver sales within our guidance range," commented Robert A. Niblock, Lowe's chairman and CEO. "In addition, solid gross margin growth combined with appropriate expense management allowed us to deliver earnings per share above our guidance for the quarter.

"The economic pressures on consumers remain intense, and bigger ticket projects continue to be postponed as wary home improvement consumers watch the economic climate and housing market dynamics very closely," Niblock added. "But, as spring arrived, we saw relative strength in smaller, outdoor projects.

"In recent weeks we have seen consumer confidence improve, housing turnover show signs of a bottom in certain markets, and home prices slow their decline," Niblock continued. "These are all positive signs for the stabilization and ultimate recovery of home improvement industry sales, but since many of these variables remain at or near historic lows, we will continue to plan conservatively and manage expenses appropriately. Lowe's remains focused on positioning the company for the future while maximizing opportunities presented today."

During the quarter, Lowe's opened 21 new stores. As of May 1, 2009, Lowe's operated 1,670 stores in the United States and Canada representing 188.8 million square feet of retail selling space, a 7.0 percent increase over last year.

A conference call to discuss first quarter 2009 operating results is scheduled for today (Monday, May 18) at 9:00 am EDT. Please dial 888-817-4020 (international callers dial 706-679-8762) to participate. A webcast of the call will take place simultaneously and can be accessed by visiting Lowe's website at www.Lowes.com/investor and clicking on Lowe's First Quarter 2009 Earnings Conference Call Webcast. A replay of the call will be archived on Lowes.com until August 16, 2009.


    Lowe's Business Outlook

    Second Quarter 2009 (comparisons to second quarter 2008)
    --  The company expects to open approximately 18 new stores reflecting
        square footage growth of approximately 7 percent
    --  Total sales are expected to range from a decline of 2 percent to an
        increase of 1 percent
    --  The company expects comparable store sales to decline 4 to 8 percent
    --  Earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales (operating
        margin) is expected to decline approximately 160 basis points driven
        by payroll, fixed cost and depreciation deleverage
    --  Store opening costs are expected to be approximately $13 million
    --  Diluted earnings per share of $0.51 to $0.55 are expected

    --  Lowe's second quarter ends on July 31, 2009 with operating results to
        be publicly released on Monday, August 17, 2009

    Fiscal Year 2009 (comparisons to fiscal year 2008)
    --  The company expects to open 60 to 70 stores in 2009 reflecting total
        square footage growth of approximately 4 percent
    --  Total sales are expected to range from a decline of 2 percent to an
        increase of 1 percent
    --  The company expects comparable store sales to decline 4 to 8 percent
    --  Earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales (operating
        margin) is expected to decline 130 to 140 basis points
    --  Store opening costs are expected to be approximately $50 million

    --  Diluted earnings per share of $1.13 to $1.25 are expected for the
        fiscal year ending January 29, 2010


    Disclosure Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This news release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the "Act"). Statements of the company's expectations for sales growth, comparable store sales, earnings and performance, capital expenditures, store openings, the housing market, the home improvement industry, demand for services, and any statement of an assumption underlying any of the foregoing, constitute "forward-looking statements" under the Act. Although the company believes that the expectations, opinions, projections, and comments reflected in its forward-looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such statements will prove to be correct. A wide variety of potential risks, uncertainties, and other factors could materially affect our ability to achieve the results expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements including, but not limited to, changes in general economic conditions, such as rising unemployment, interest rate and currency fluctuations, higher fuel and other energy costs, slower growth in personal income, changes in consumer spending, the availability and increasing regulation of consumer credit and mortgage financing, changes in the rate of housing turnover, inflation or deflation of commodity prices and other factors which can negatively affect our customers, as well as our ability to: (i) respond to adverse trends in the housing industry and the level of repairs, remodeling, and additions to existing homes, as well as general reduction in commercial building activity; (ii) secure, develop, and otherwise implement new technologies and processes designed to enhance our efficiency and competitiveness; (iii) attract, train, and retain highly-qualified associates; (iv) locate, secure, and successfully develop new sites for store development particularly in major metropolitan markets; (v) respond to fluctuations in the prices and availability of services, supplies, and products; (vi) respond to the growth and impact of competition; (vii) address legal and regulatory developments; and (viii) respond to unanticipated weather conditions that could adversely affect sales. For more information about these and other risks and uncertainties that we are exposed to, you should read the "Risk Factors" included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and the description of material changes, if any, in those "Risk Factors" included in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.

The forward-looking statements contained in this news release speak only as of the date of this release and the company does not assume any obligation to update any such statements.

With fiscal year 2008 sales of $48.2 billion, Lowe's Companies, Inc. is a FORTUNE(R) 50 company that serves approximately 14 million customers a week at more than 1,650 home improvement stores in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1946 and based in Mooresville, N.C., Lowe's is the second-largest home improvement retailer in the world. For more information, visit Lowes.com.





    Lowe's Companies, Inc.
    Consolidated Statements of Current and Retained Earnings (Unaudited)
    In Millions, Except Per Share Data

                                               Three Months Ended
                                ----------------------------------------------
                                        May 1, 2009            May 2, 2008
    Current Earnings                  Amount   Percent       Amount   Percent
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Net sales                         $11,832   100.00       $12,009   100.00

    Cost of sales                       7,636    64.54         7,843    65.31

    Gross margin                        4,196    35.46         4,166    34.69

    Expenses:

    Selling, general and
     administrative                     2,944    24.88         2,725    22.69

    Store opening costs                    13     0.11            18     0.15

    Depreciation                          401     3.39           375     3.12

    Interest - net                         78     0.66            76     0.63

    Total expenses                      3,436    29.04         3,194    26.59

    Pre-tax earnings                      760     6.42           972     8.10

    Income tax provision                  284     2.40           365     3.04

    Net earnings                         $476     4.02          $607     5.06

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Weighted average common shares
     outstanding - basic                1,462                  1,454

    Basic earnings per
     common share                       $0.32                  $0.42

    Weighted average common shares
     outstanding - diluted              1,464                  1,477

    Diluted earnings per
     common share                       $0.32                  $0.41

    Cash dividends per share           $0.085                 $0.080

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Retained Earnings
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Balance at beginning of period    $17,049                $15,345
    Net earnings                          476                    607
    Cash dividends                       (126)                  (117)
    Balance at end of period          $17,399                $15,835

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------



    Lowe's Companies, Inc.
    Consolidated Balance Sheets
    In Millions, Except Par Value Data
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  (Unaudited)   (Unaudited)
                                  May 1, 2009   May 2, 2008  January 30, 2009
                                  ------------  ------------ -----------------
    Assets

      Current assets:
        Cash and cash equivalents         $682          $913             $245
        Short-term investments             460           295              416
        Merchandise inventory
         - net                           9,013         8,438            8,209
        Deferred income taxes
         - net                             183           259              166
        Other current assets               264           253              215
                                  ------------  ------------ -----------------

        Total current assets            10,602        10,158            9,251

        Property, less accumulated
         depreciation                   22,715        21,641           22,722
        Long-term investments              448           537              253
        Other assets                       444           318              460
                                  ------------  ------------ -----------------

        Total assets                   $34,209       $32,654          $32,686
                                  ============  ============ =================

    Liabilities and shareholders'
     equity

      Current liabilities:
        Short-term borrowings               $-          $147             $987
        Current maturities of
         long-term debt                     52            34               34
        Accounts payable                 5,843         5,345            4,109
        Accrued compensation and
         employee benefits                 535           481              434
        Self-insurance
         liabilities                       750           685              751
        Deferred revenue                   741           893              674
        Other current
         liabilities                     1,283         1,388            1,033
                                  ------------  ------------ -----------------

        Total current liabilities        9,204         8,973            8,022

        Long-term debt, excluding
         current maturities              5,023         5,576            5,039
        Deferred income taxes
         - net                             594           699              660
        Other liabilities                  951           787              910
                                  ------------  ------------ -----------------

        Total liabilities               15,772        16,035           14,631
                                  ------------  ------------ -----------------

      Shareholders' equity:
        Preferred stock - $5 par
         value, none issued                  -             -                -
        Common stock - $.50
         par value;
          Shares issued and
           outstanding
          May 1, 2009        1,474
          May 2, 2008        1,462
          January 30, 2009   1,470         737           731              735
        Capital in excess of par
         value                             296            48              277
        Retained earnings               17,399        15,835           17,049
        Accumulated other
         comprehensive income
         (loss)                              5             5               (6)
                                  ------------  ------------ -----------------

        Total shareholders'
         equity                         18,437        16,619           18,055
                                  ------------  ------------ -----------------

        Total liabilities
         and shareholders'
         equity                        $34,209       $32,654          $32,686
                                  ============  ============ =================

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------




    Lowe's Companies, Inc.
    Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows (Unaudited)
    In Millions

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Three Months Ended
                                                     May 1, 2009   May 2, 2008
                                                    --------------------------
    Cash flows from operating
     activities:
        Net earnings                                        $476         $607
          Adjustments to reconcile net earnings
            to net cash provided by
            operating activities:
            Depreciation and amortization                    434          404
            Deferred income taxes                            (83)          17
            Loss on property and other assets                  9           21
            Transaction loss from exchange
             rate changes                                      1            -
            Share-based payment expense                       24           28
            Changes in operating assets and
             liabilities:
              Merchandise inventory - net                   (801)        (828)
              Other operating assets                          (1)          42
              Accounts payable                             1,732        1,633
              Other operating liabilities                    554          614
        Net cash provided by operating activities          2,345        2,538

    Cash flows from investing activities:
        Purchases of short-term investments                  (68)         (64)
        Proceeds from sale/maturity of
         short-term investments                              122           86
        Purchases of long-term investments                  (302)        (325)
        Proceeds from sale/maturity of
         long-term investments                                 6          224
        Decrease in other long-term assets                    15            -
        Property acquired                                   (572)        (805)
        Proceeds from sale of property and
         other long-term assets                               11            4
        Net cash used in investing activities               (788)        (880)

    Cash flows from financing activities:
        Net decrease in short-term borrowings               (986)        (915)
        Proceeds from issuance of long-term debt               -            8
        Repayment of long-term debt                           (8)         (13)
        Proceeds from issuance of common stock
         from stock options exercised                          1           10
        Cash dividend payments                              (126)        (117)
        Excess tax benefits of share-based payments            -            1
        Net cash used in financing activities             (1,119)      (1,026)

    Effect of exchange rate changes on cash                   (1)           -

    Net increase in cash and cash equivalents                437          632
    Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period           245          281
    Cash and cash equivalents, end of period                $682         $913

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

SOURCE  Lowe's Companies, Inc.
    -0-                           05/18/2009
    /CONTACT:  Shareholders' - Analysts' Inquiries: Paul Taaffe,
+1-704-758-2033, or Media Inquiries: Chris Ahearn, +1-704-758-2304, both for
Lowe's Companies, Inc./
    /Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20031205/LOWLOGO
             AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org
             PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com/
    /Web Site:  http://www.Lowes.com /
    (LOW)

CO:  Lowe's Companies, Inc.
ST:  North Carolina
IN:  REA CST HMI HHP HOU
SU:  CCA ERN ERP

PR
-- CL18132 --
4032 05/18/2009 07:00 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com