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Lowe’s Companies, Inc. Reports 31% Increase in Second Quarter Earnings Per Share

North Wilkesboro, NC, August 17 -- Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW) announced today that diluted earnings per share for the quarter ended July 31, 1998 grew 31% to $0.47, compared to diluted earnings per share of $0.36 in the second quarter of 1997. Net earnings for the quarter grew 31% to $165.4 million compared to net earnings of $126.5 million in the second quarter of 1997.

As previously reported, sales for the quarter ended July 31, 1998 totaled $3.43 billion, compared to last year’s sales of $2.81 billion, an increase of 22%. Comparable store sales increased 6.0% in the quarter. Large stores (those larger than 80,000 square feet) had a comparable store sales increase of 7.5% in the quarter.

"Our outstanding second quarter sales results continue to reflect the strength and dedication of our 65,000+ employee-owners," commented Robert L. Tillman, Lowe’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Our comparable store performance, as well as above-plan opening results from our new stores, are a valida tion of our merchandising format and store expansion plans."

In the second quarter, Lowe’s opened 15 stores (8 new stores and 7 relocations) bringing total store count to 457 stores in 26 states. Retail square footage grew to 38.8 million, a 21.6% increase over second quarter 1997.

This news release may include "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Exchange Act. Although the Company believes that comments reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Possible risks and uncertainties regarding these statements include, but are not limited to, general economic trends, availability and development of real estate for expansion, fluctuation in prices in commodities, the nature of competition and weather conditions, all of which are described in greater detail in Lowe’s 1997 Annual Report. Supplemental Information:

STORE PERFORMANCE PERSPECTIVE

In 1992, Lowe's began a more detailed reporting on the transformation from a chain of small, contractor-oriented stores to a family of modern, home- improvement warehouses. In second quarter 1998, the Large stores contributed 79% of sales and 77% of operating profits. The following tables are intended to assist the user in understanding the impact of that transformation.

Store Group Categories, presented in these tables, are defined as follows:
1. Yards : Focused Contractor Yards 
2. Small : Average of 19,000 square feet 
3. Medium : Average of 58,000 square feet 
4. Large : Average of more than 100,000 square feet.

All stores in excess of 80,000 square feet.

Further, Large store sales are reported on both a comparable (same-store) basis and new (open less than a year) basis. A relocated store is removed from the comparable store computation until it has been open at least 12 months.


    Second Quarter 1998

    Table 1:  Store Group Unit Totals, End of Second Quarter
                                1998            1997           1996
                          % of              % of            % of
                          Total      Units  Total    Units  Total  Units
    Yards                   6%         29     7%      27      6%    24
    Small                  10%         45    14%      57     19%    73
    Medium                 15%         70    21%      87     25%    95
    Large Comp             51%        231    42%     173     31%   116
    Large New              18%         82    16%      68     19%    72

    Total                 100%        457   100%     412    100%   380

    Table 2:  Sales & Operating Profits* by Store Group, Second Quarter
                                1998           1997            1996

                             Sales  O.P.*    Sales  O.P.*  Sales  O.P.*
    Yards                      3%     2%       4%    3%      4%    2%
    Small                      5%     4%       7%    7%     11%   11%
    Medium                    13%    17%      21%   25%     26%   32%
    Large Comp                59%    64%      51%   52%     40%   43%
    Large New                 20%    13%      17%   13%     19%   12%

    Total                    100%   100%     100%  100%    100%  100%

*Operating Profits before corporate expense and intercompany charges, interest, LIFO and income taxes.

Shareholders’ and Security Analysts’ Inquiries:
Robert A. Niblock, Vice President and Treasurer 336-658-4860
Carson Anderson, Manager- Investor Relations 336-658-4385

Media Inquiries: 
Brian Peace, Director- Public Relations 336-658-4170


                           Lowe's Companies, Inc.
           Consolidated Statements of Current and Retained Earnings
                   In Thousands, Except Per Share Data

                          Quarter Ended                 Six Months Ended
                  July 31, 1998   August 1, 1997  July 31, 1998 August 1, 1997
    Current Earnings

    Net sales    $  3,425,685       $2,808,086     $6,325,225    $5,208,840

    Cost of sales   2,522,649        2,076,993      4,662,151     3,854,044

    Gross margin      903,036          731,093      1,663,074     1,354,796

    Expenses:

    Selling, general and
     administrative   545,166          447,303      1,061,239       878,783

    Store opening
     costs             14,952           12,289         26,317        20,541

    Depreciation       66,273           58,569        131,005       115,282

    Interest           17,247           16,005         36,910        33,290

    Total expenses    643,638          534,166      1,255,471     1,047,896

    Pre-tax earnings  259,398          196,927        407,603       306,900

    Income tax
     provision         94,020           70,431        147,760       110,021

    Net earnings   $  165,378        $ 126,496      $ 259,843     $ 196,879


    Shares outstanding
    (weighted
     average)         351,994          348,107        351,513       347,507

    Basic Earnings Per
     Share          $    0.47        $    0.36      $    0.74      $   0.57

    Diluted Earnings
     Per Share      $    0.47        $    0.36      $    0.74      $   0.57


    Retained Earnings
    Balance at
     beginning of
     period        $1,649,988       $1,306,755     $1,565,133    $1,245,888
    Net earnings      165,378          126,496        259,843       196,879
    Cash dividends    (10,510)          (9,552)       (20,120)      (19,068)
    Balance at end of
     period        $1,804,856       $1,423,699     $1,804,856    $1,423,699


    Lowe's Companies, Inc.
    Consolidated Balance Sheets
    In Thousands

                                    July 31,      August 1,   January 30,
                                      1998          1997         1998
    Assets

    Current assets:
    Cash and cash equivalents     $  513,190    $   35,673    $  195,146
    Short-term investments            43,680       135,826        16,155
    Accounts receivable - net        159,613       149,547       118,408
    Merchandise inventory          1,968,270     1,748,931     1,714,592
    Deferred income taxes             43,566        22,957        34,116
    Other assets                      84,742        43,106        31,185

    Total current assets           2,813,061     2,136,040     2,109,602

    Property, less accumulated
     depreciation                  3,243,681     2,719,711     3,005,199
    Long-term investments             36,775        30,328        35,161
    Other assets                      68,221        49,742        69,315

    Total assets                  $6,161,738    $4,935,821    $5,219,277
    Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity

    Current liabilities:
    Short-term borrowings         $   93,975    $   84,375    $   98,104
    Current maturities of
     long-term debt                   39,391        11,750        12,478
    Accounts payable               1,201,630       966,432       969,777
    Employee retirement plans         55,194        59,822        64,669
    Accrued salaries and wages        78,474        61,588        83,377
    Other current liabilities        340,785       278,871       220,915

    Total current liabilities      1,809,449     1,462,838     1,449,320

    Long-term debt, excluding
     current maturities            1,323,689       934,329     1,045,570
    Deferred income taxes            126,629       105,708       123,778

    Total liabilities              3,259,767     2,502,875     2,618,668

    Shareholders' equity
    Preferred stock - $5 par value,
     none issued                          --            --            --
    Common stock - $.50 par value;
           Issued and Outstanding
         July 31, 1998      352,301
         August 1, 199      348,621
         January 30, 1      350,632  176,150       174,310       175,316
    Capital in excess of par         953,486       850,193       892,666
    Retained earnings              1,804,856     1,423,699     1,565,133
    Unearned compensation-
     restricted stock awards         (32,679)      (15,287)      (32,694)
    Accumulated other comprehensive
     income - unrealized
     gain on available-for-sale
     securities                          158            31           188

    Total shareholders' equity     2,901,971     2,432,946     2,600,609

    Total liabilities and
     shareholders' equity       $  6,161,738   $ 4,935,821   $ 5,219,277


    Lowe's Companies, Inc.
    Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
    In Thousands
                                                  For the Six Months Ended
                                                 July 31,         August 1,
                                                  1998              1997
    Cash Flows From Operating Activities:
      Net Earnings                             $  259,843        $  196,879
      Adjustments to Reconcile Net Earnings to Net Cash
       Provided By Operating Activities:
         Depreciation                             131,005           115,282
         Amortization of Original Issue Discount      221                86
         Increase (Decrease) in Deferred Income
          Taxes                                    (6,599)            7,004
         Loss on Disposition/Writedown of Fixed
          and Other Assets                         14,722            10,397
         Changes in Operating Assets and Liabilities:
          Accounts Receivable - Net               (41,205)          (31,985)
          Merchandise Inventory                  (253,678)         (143,051)
          Other Operating Assets                  (53,439)          (11,516)
          Accounts Payable                        231,853            52,265
          Employee Retirement Plans                35,123            33,032
          Other Operating Liabilities             133,602            73,498
      Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities   451,448           301,891

    Cash Flows from Investing Activities:
      (Increase) Decrease in Investment Assets:
        Short-Term Investments                    (16,059)          (97,339)
        Purchases of Long-Term Investments        (13,632)           (4,547)
        Proceeds from Sale/Maturity of Long-Term
         Investments                                  522             2,022
       Decrease in Other Long-Term Assets          (7,768)           (2,357)
       Fixed Assets Acquired                     (371,703)         (321,741)
       Proceeds from the Sale of Fixed and
        Other Long-Term Asset                      12,188             7,594
       Net Cash Used in Investing Activities     (396,452)         (416,368)

    Cash Flows from Financing Activities:
      Long-Term Debt Borrowings                   296,160           142,028
      Net Increase (Decrease) in Short-Term
       Borrowings                                  (4,129)            3,470
      Proceeds from Stock Options Exercised         8,022               145
      Repayment of Long-Term Debt                  (7,298)          (16,812)
      Cash Dividend Payments                      (29,707)          (19,068)
      Net Cash Provided by Financing Activities   263,048           109,763

    Net Increase (Decrease) in Cash and Cash
     Equivalents                                  318,044            (4,714)
    Cash and Cash Equivalents, Beginning of
     Year                                         195,146            40,387
    Cash and Cash Equivalents, End of Period   $  513,190       $    35,673