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Lowe's Reports Record Earnings for Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year
WILKESBORO, N.C., Feb 24, 2003 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via Comtex/ --

- Fourth Quarter Net Earnings Increased 46 Percent - - Fourth Quarter Comparable Store Sales Increased 4.1 Percent - - Fiscal 2002 Net Earnings Increased 44 Percent to $1.47 Billion -

Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW), the world's second largest home improvement retailer, today reported net earnings of $319.4 million for the quarter ended January 31, 2003, a 46.2 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Diluted earnings per share increased 42.9 percent to $0.40 from $0.28 in the fourth quarter of 2001. For fiscal 2002, net earnings grew 43.8 percent to $1.47 billion and diluted earnings per share increased 42.3 percent to $1.85.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000720/LOWES )

Sales for the quarter increased 16.5 percent to $6.12 billion, up from $5.25 billion in the fourth quarter of 2002. Comparable store sales for the fourth quarter increased by 4.1 percent. Fiscal 2002 sales increased to $26.5 billion, a 19.8 percent increase over fiscal 2001. Comparable store sales increased 5.6 percent for the year.

"In 2002, amidst a backdrop of economic uncertainty, Americans continued to invest in their largest asset, their homes," commented Robert L. Tillman, Lowe's chairman and CEO. "Throughout the year, we continued to experience consistent performance across all regions and all product categories. Focused on providing exceptional customer service, our employees delivered the best year in Lowe's history."

"The year ahead holds challenges, but many signs point to a strong home improvement market. Positioning Lowe's for future growth, I'm confident our employees will continue their consistent execution of the fundamentals with a diligent focus on exceeding customer expectations. Despite the uncertainties that remain in the broader economic and geopolitical environment, I'm optimistic that the home improvement consumer will remain resilient."

During the quarter, Lowe's opened 37 new stores including 6 relocations. For the year, Lowe's opened 123 new stores including 11 relocations. Two older, smaller stores were closed during the year. As of January 31, 2003, Lowe's operated 854 stores in 44 states representing 94.7 million square feet, a 17.4 percent increase over last year.

Last week, FORTUNE, one of the nation's leading business publications, announced its 2003 list of America's Most Admired Companies, ranking Lowe's Companies, Inc. number one in the specialty retailer category.

A conference call to discuss fourth quarter and fiscal year 2002 operating results is scheduled for today (Monday, February 24) at 9:00 a.m. EDT. Please dial 888-817-4020 (international callers dial 706-679-3245) to participate. A webcast of the call will take place simultaneously and can be accessed by visiting Lowe's website at http://www.lowes.com and clicking on About Lowe's, Investor Information, Shareholder Services, Calendar of Events. A replay of the call will be archived on lowes.com for 7 days.

Policy Regarding Information Disclosure and Regulation FD

The company provides forward-looking statements in its quarterly earnings releases in a section titled Lowe's Business Outlook. Lowe's Business Outlook describes the company's outlook for the future and includes guidance on total sales, comparable store sales and earnings, as well as other information management deems appropriate. Information included in Lowe's Business Outlook is based upon available data at the time of publication.

In addition, the company has a formal "Quiet Period." The period begins ten business days prior to the end of each fiscal quarter and extends until the public release of earnings. During this period, Lowe's representatives will not comment on current trends or future expectations.

Lowe's Business Outlook

This outlook is based on current expectations and includes "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.

    First Quarter 2003 (comparisons to first quarter 2002)
    *  The company expects to open 20 stores reflecting square footage growth
       of approximately 13 percent
    *  Total sales are expected to increase approximately 15 percent
    *  The company expects to report comparable store sales of 2 to 4 percent
    *  Operating margin (defined as gross margin less SG&A and depreciation)
       is expected to increase approximately 20 basis points
    *  Store opening costs are expected to be approximately $26 million
    *  Diluted earnings per share of $0.51 to $0.53 are expected
    *  Lowe's first quarter ends on May 2, 2003 with operating results to be
       publicly released on Monday, May 19, 2003

    Fiscal Year 2003 (comparisons to fiscal year 2002)
    *  The company expects to open 130 stores in 2003 reflecting total square
       footage growth of 15 to 16 percent
    *  Total sales are expected to increase approximately 16 to 17 percent for
       the year
    *  The company expects to report a comparable store sales increase of
       approximately 4 to 5 percent
    *  Operating margin (defined as gross margin less SG&A and depreciation)
       is expected to increase approximately 20 basis points
    *  Store opening costs are expected to be approximately $140 million
    *  Diluted earnings per share of $2.16 to $2.20 are expected for the
       fiscal year ending January 30, 2004
This news release includes "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, the direction of general economic conditions, the availability of real estate for expansion and its successful development, particularly in major metropolitan markets, the availability of sufficient labor to facilitate growth, fluctuations in prices and availability of product, unanticipated impact of competition, legal or regulatory developments, and weather conditions that affect sales.

With 2002 sales of $26.5 billion, Lowe's Companies, Inc. is a FORTUNE 100 company that serves approximately nine million customers a week at more than 850 home improvement stores in 45 states. Based in Wilkesboro, N.C., the 57-year old company 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
    In Thousands, Except Per Share Data
                                                    (Unaudited)
                                                 Three Months Ended
                                         January 31, 2003    February 1, 2002
    Current Earnings                     Amount   Percent    Amount   Percent

    Net sales                          $6,117,814  100.00  $5,253,483  100.00

    Cost of sales                       4,181,559   68.35   3,687,768   70.20

    Gross margin                        1,936,255   31.65   1,565,715   29.80

    Expenses:

    Selling, general and
     administrative                     1,163,462   19.02   1,000,868   19.05

    Store opening costs                    40,756    0.66      32,842    0.63

    Depreciation                          168,761    2.76     139,125    2.64

    Interest                               44,715    0.73      46,178    0.88

    Total expenses                      1,417,694   23.17   1,219,013   23.20

    Pre-tax earnings                      518,561    8.48     346,702    6.60

    Income tax provision                  199,170    3.26     128,300    2.44

    Net earnings                         $319,391    5.22    $218,402    4.16


    Shares outstanding - Basic            781,526             774,957

    Basic earnings per share                $0.41               $0.28

    Shares outstanding - Diluted          801,462             799,277

    Diluted earnings per share              $0.40               $0.28


    Retained Earnings
    Balance at beginning of period     $5,587,075          $4,278,839
    Net earnings                          319,391             218,402
    Cash dividends                        (19,548)            (15,507)
    Balance at end of period           $5,886,918          $4,481,734


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

                                                   (Unaudited)
                                                    Year Ended
                                       January 31, 2003     February 1, 2002
    Current Earnings                   Amount    Percent    Amount    Percent

    Net sales                        $26,490,885  100.00  $22,111,108  100.00

    Cost of sales                     18,464,654   69.70   15,743,267   71.20

    Gross margin                       8,026,231   30.30    6,367,841   28.80

    Expenses:

    Selling, general and
     administrative                    4,730,127   17.86    3,913,355   17.70

    Store opening costs                  128,685    0.48      139,870    0.63

    Depreciation                         626,577    2.36      516,828    2.34

    Interest                             181,868    0.69      173,537    0.78

    Total expenses                     5,667,257   21.39    4,743,590   21.45

    Pre-tax earnings                   2,358,974    8.91    1,624,251    7.35

    Income tax provision                 887,486    3.35      600,989    2.72

    Net earnings                      $1,471,488    5.56   $1,023,262    4.63


    Shares outstanding - Basic           779,374              772,098

    Basic earnings per share               $1.89                $1.33

    Shares outstanding - Diluted         800,032              794,597

    Diluted earnings per share             $1.85                $1.30


    Retained Earnings
    Balance at beginning of period    $4,481,734           $3,518,356
    Net earnings                       1,471,488            1,023,262
    Cash dividends                       (66,304)             (59,884)
    Balance at end of period          $5,886,918           $4,481,734



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


                                    January 31,    %      February 1,    %
                                       2003      Total       2002      Total

    Assets
      Current Assets:
      Cash and Cash Equivalents     $ 852,943     5.3%   $ 798,839     5.8 %
      Short-Term Investments          273,264     1.7        54,389     0.4
      Accounts Receivable - Net       171,811     1.1       165,578     1.2
      Merchandise Inventory         3,968,443    24.6     3,610,776    26.3
      Deferred Income Taxes            57,798     0.4        92,504     0.7
      Other Current Assets            243,368     1.5       198,306     1.4
      Total Current Assets          5,567,627    34.6     4,920,392    35.8
      Property, Less Accumulated
         Depreciation              10,351,937    64.3     8,653,439    63.0
      Long-Term Investments            29,093     0.2        21,660     0.2
      Other Assets                    159,889     0.9       140,728     1.0
      Total Assets               $ 16,108,546   100.0% $ 13,736,219   100.0%

    Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity
      Current Liabilities:
      Short-Term Borrowings         $  50,000     0.3%   $  100,000     0.7%
      Current Maturities of
       Long-Term Debt                  29,131     0.2        59,259     0.5
      Accounts Payable              1,943,296    12.1     1,714,776    12.5
      Employee Retirement Plans        87,513     0.5       126,339     0.9
      Accrued Salaries and Wages      305,791     1.9       220,885     1.6
      Other Current Liabilities     1,161,864     7.2       795,571     5.8
      Total Current Liabilities     3,577,595    22.2     3,016,830    22.0
      Long-Term Debt, Excluding
       Current Maturities           3,736,388    23.2     3,734,011    27.2
      Deferred Income Taxes           477,623     3.0       304,697     2.2
      Other Long-Term Liabilites       15,488     0.1         6,239      --
      Total Liabilities
                                    7,807,094    48.5     7,061,777    51.4

      Shareholders' Equity:
      Preferred Stock -
        $5 Par Value,
        none issued                        --      --            --      --
      Common Stock - $.50 Par Value;
        Shares Issued
        and Outstanding
       February 1, 2002   781,944
       February 2, 2001   775,714     390,972     2.4       387,857     2.8
      Capital in Excess of
       Par Value                    2,023,157    12.6     1,804,161    13.2
      Retained Earnings             5,886,918    36.5     4,481,734    32.6
      Accumulated Other
       Comprehensive Income               405      --           690      --
      Total Shareholders' Equity    8,301,452    51.5     6,674,442    48.6
      Total Liabilities and
       Shareholders' Equity      $ 16,108,546   100.0% $ 13,736,219   100.0%


    Lowe's Companies, Inc.
    Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
    In Thousands

                                          January 31, February 1, February 2,
                                              2003        2002        2001
    Cash Flows From Operating Activities:
         Net Earnings                      $1,471,488  $1,023,262    $809,871
         Adjustments to Reconcile Net
          Earnings to Net Cash
          Provided By Operating
          Activities:
           Depreciation and Amortization      644,958     534,102     409,511
           Deferred Income Taxes              207,785      41,658      23,284
           Loss on Disposition/Writedown
            of Fixed and Other Assets          18,423      38,930      22,733
           Tax Effect of Stock Options
            Exercised                          29,389      35,019       7,465
              Changes in Operating Assets
              and Liabilities:
               Accounts Receivable - Net       (6,233)     (4,593)    (13,084)
               Merchandise Inventory         (357,667)   (325,406)   (473,009)
               Other Operating Assets         (40,832)    (36,792)    (59,651)
               Accounts Payable               228,520         406     158,419
               Employee Retirement Plans       40,026     113,823     (26,357)
               Other Operating Liabilities    460,545     192,640     270,527
         Net Cash Provided by Operating
          Activities                        2,696,402   1,613,049   1,129,709

    Cash Flows from Investing Activities:
         (Increase) Decrease in Investment
          Assets:
            Short-Term Investments           (203,346)    (29,958)     75,738
            Purchases of Long-Term
             Investments                      (23,497)     (1,042)    (13,951)
            Proceeds from Sale/Maturity of
             Long-Term Investments                 --       2,878         750
         Increase in Other Long-Term
          Assets                              (32,872)    (13,661)    (51,675)
         Fixed Assets Acquired             (2,361,748) (2,199,108) (2,331,922)
         Proceeds from the Sale of Fixed
          and Other Long-Term Assets           43,566      41,557      71,399
         Net Cash Used in Investing
          Activities                       (2,577,897) (2,199,334) (2,249,661)

    Cash Flows from Financing Activities:
         Net (Decrease) Increase in Short-
          Term Borrowings                     (50,000)   (149,829)    157,354
         Long-Term Debt Borrowings                 --   1,087,071   1,014,878
         Repayment of Long-Term Debt          (61,967)    (63,762)    (61,285)
         Proceeds from Employee Stock
          Purchase Plan                        49,342      37,937      14,889
         Proceeds from Stock Options
          Exercised                            64,528      77,933      12,131
         Cash Dividend Payments               (66,304)    (59,884)    (53,479)
         Net Cash (Used in) Provided by
          Financing Activities                (64,401)    929,466   1,084,488

    Net Increase (Decrease) in Cash and
     Cash Equivalents                          54,104     343,181     (35,464)
    Cash and Cash Equivalents, Beginning
     of Period                                798,839     455,658     491,122
    Cash and Cash Equivalents, End of
     Period                                  $852,943    $798,839    $455,658
SOURCE Lowe's Companies, Inc.

Photo    : NewsCom:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000720/LOWE
CONTACT:          Shareholders and Analysts, Paul Taaffe, +1-336-658-5239, or
                  media, Chris Ahearn, +1-336-658-7387, both of Lowe's Companies, Inc.

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                  http://www.lowes.com
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