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Lowe's Reports Record Earnings for Third Quarter; Third Quarter Net Earnings Increased 33 Percent
                Third Quarter Total Sales Increased 24 Percent

MOORESVILLE, N.C., Nov. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW), the world's second largest home improvement retailer, today reported net earnings of $452 million for the quarter ended October 31, 2003, a 33.3 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Diluted earnings per share increased 30.2 percent to $0.56 from $0.43 in the third quarter of 2002. For the nine months ended October 31, 2003, net earnings grew 27.5 percent to $1.47 billion while diluted earnings per share increased 26.9 percent to $1.84.

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

Sales for the quarter increased 23.5 percent to $7.92 billion, up from $6.41 billion in the third quarter of 2002. Comparable store sales for the third quarter increased by 12.4 percent. For the nine months ended October 31, 2003, sales increased 17.4 percent to $23.9 billion. Comparable store sales increased 6.5 percent in the first nine months of 2003.

"We achieved the strongest comparable store sales growth in Lowe's modern history as a result of our many internal sales and operational initiatives," said Robert L. Tillman, Lowe's chairman and CEO. "We've experienced balanced performance across all of our product categories and across all regions of the country as American consumers remain committed to enhancing the enjoyment of their homes. That commitment is readily apparent in the results our stores have delivered this year."

"Our robust sales results clearly reflect the focus and discipline of our stores and highlight the flexibility of Lowe's centralized model to drive sales in an increasingly strong economic environment," added Lowe's President Robert A. Niblock. "Our employees excelled during this above-plan sales environment and continued to ensure customer service is our top priority. Additionally, our logistics and distribution infrastructure allowed us to effectively manage inventory and keep our stores in stock with the great merchandise our customers desire."

During the quarter, Lowe's opened 38 new stores, including two relocations. As of October 31, 2003, Lowe's operated 932 stores in 45 states representing 103.7 million square feet of retail selling space, a 14.2 percent increase over last year.

A conference call to discuss third quarter 2003 operating results is scheduled for today (Monday, November 17) at 9:00 a.m. EST. 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 www.Lowes.com/investor and clicking on Lowe's Third Quarter 2003 Earnings Conference Call Webcast. A replay of the call will be archived on Lowes.com for 7 days.

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.

    Fourth Quarter 2003 (comparisons to fourth quarter 2002)
    * The company expects to open 47 stores reflecting square footage growth
      of approximately 15 percent
    * Total sales are expected to increase 18 to 19 percent
    * The company expects to report comparable store sales of 6 to 7 percent
    * Operating margin (defined as gross margin less SG&A and depreciation) is
      expected to be flat to slightly positive as a percent to sales
    * Store opening costs are expected to be approximately $49 million
    * Diluted earnings per share of $0.48 to $0.49 are expected
    * Lowe's fourth quarter ends on January 30, 2004 with operating results to
      be publicly released on Monday, February 23, 2004

    Fiscal Year 2003 (comparisons to fiscal year 2002)
    * The company expects to open 130 stores in 2003 reflecting total square
      footage growth of approximately 15 percent
    * Total sales are expected to increase approximately 18 percent for the
      year
    * The company expects to report a comparable store sales increase of 6 to
      7 percent
    * Operating margin (defined as gross margin less SG&A and depreciation) is
      expected to increase approximately 50 basis points
    * Store opening costs are expected to be approximately $132 million
    * Diluted earnings per share of $2.32 to $2.33 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 fiscal year 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 925 home improvement stores in 45 states. In 2003, FORTUNE named Lowe's America's Most Admired Specialty Retailer. Based in Mooresville, 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 (Unaudited)
    In Millions, Except Per Share Data

                                        Three Months Ended   Nine Months Ended
                                         October 31, 2003    November 1, 2002
    Current Earnings                      Amount   Percent    Amount  Percent

    Net sales                              $7,924   100.00   $6,415   100.00

    Cost of sales                           5,460    68.90    4,450    69.36

    Gross margin                            2,464    31.10    1,965    30.64

    Expenses:

    Selling, general and administrative     1,466    18.50    1,192    18.59

    Store opening costs                        37     0.47       28     0.43

    Depreciation                              193     2.44      159     2.48

    Interest                                   42     0.53       44     0.69

    Total expenses                          1,738    21.94    1,423    22.19

    Pre-tax earnings                          726     9.16      542     8.45

    Income tax provision                      274     3.46      203     3.16

    Net earnings                             $452     5.70     $339     5.29


    Shares outstanding - Basic                786               781

    Basic earnings per share                $0.58             $0.44

    Shares outstanding - Diluted              808               801

    Diluted earnings per share              $0.56             $0.43


    Retained Earnings
    Balance at beginning of period         $6,865            $5,263
    Net earnings                              452               339
    Cash dividends                            (24)              (15)
    Balance at end of period               $7,293            $5,587


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

                                        Three Months Ended  Nine Months Ended
                                         October 31, 2003    November 1, 2002
    Current Earnings                      Amount  Percent     Amount  Percent

    Net sales                             $23,909  100.00     $20,373  100.00

    Cost of sales                          16,560   69.26      14,283   70.11

    Gross margin                            7,349   30.74       6,090   29.89

    Expenses:

    Selling, general and administrative     4,212   17.62       3,567   17.51

    Store opening costs                        82    0.34          88    0.43

    Depreciation                              557    2.33         458    2.25

    Interest                                  136    0.57         137    0.67

    Total expenses                          4,987   20.86       4,250   20.86

    Pre-tax earnings                        2,362    9.88       1,840    9.03

    Income tax provision                      893    3.74         688    3.38

    Net earnings                           $1,469    6.14      $1,152    5.65


    Shares outstanding - Basic                784                 779

    Basic earnings per share                $1.87               $1.48

    Shares outstanding - Diluted              805                 800

    Diluted earnings per share              $1.84               $1.45


    Retained Earnings
    Balance at beginning of period         $5,887              $4,482
    Net earnings                            1,469               1,152
    Cash dividends                            (63)                (47)
    Balance at end of period               $7,293              $5,587


    Lowe's Companies, Inc.
    Consolidated Balance Sheets
    In Millions, Except Par Value Data

                                              (Unaudited) (Unaudited)
                                                October     November  January
                                                  31,          1,       31,
                                                 2003        2002      2003
    Assets

         Current assets:
         Cash and cash equivalents              $1,196      $1,305     $853
         Short-term investments                    126          92      273
         Accounts receivable - net                 208         187      172
         Merchandise inventory                   5,006       4,151    3,968
         Deferred income taxes                      81         110       58
         Other assets                              285         179      244

         Total current assets                    6,902       6,024    5,568

         Property, less accumulated
          depreciation                          11,425       9,648   10,352
         Long-term investments                     119          10       29
         Other assets                              229         129      160

         Total assets                          $18,675     $15,811  $16,109

    Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity

        Current liabilities:
         Short-term borrowings                     $--         $50      $50
         Current maturities of long-term
          debt                                      77          39       29
         Accounts payable                        2,542       2,046    1,943
         Employee retirement plans                  53          66       88
         Accrued salaries and wages                283         295      306
         Other current liabilities               1,568       1,291    1,162

         Total current liabilities               4,523       3,787    3,578

         Long-term debt, excluding
          current maturities                     3,681       3,739    3,736
         Deferred income taxes                     588         318      478
         Other long-term liabilities                21           9       15

         Total liabilities                       8,813       7,853    7,807

         Shareholders' equity:
         Preferred stock - $5 par value,
          none issued                               --          --       --
         Common stock - $.50 par value;
              Shares Issued and
               Outstanding
              October 31, 2003 786
              November 1, 2002 781
              January 31, 2003 782                 393         390      391
         Capital in excess of par                2,176       1,981    2,023
         Retained earnings                       7,293       5,587    5,887
         Accumulated other comprehensive
          income                                    --          --        1

         Total shareholders' equity              9,862       7,958    8,302

         Total liabilities and
          shareholders' equity                 $18,675     $15,811  $16,109



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

                                                     Nine Months Ended

                                                 October 31,       November 1,
                                                     2003              2002
    Cash Flows From Operating Activities:
         Net Earnings                               $1,469            $1,152
         Adjustments to Reconcile Net
          Earnings to Net Cash
           Provided By Operating
            Activities:
             Depreciation and
              Amortization                             571               472
             Deferred Income Taxes                      87                (4)
             Loss on
              Disposition/Writedown of
              Fixed and Other Assets                    23                17
             Stock-based compensation
              expense                                   28                --
             Tax Effect of Stock Options
              Exercised                                 21                20
             Changes in Operating Assets
              and Liabilities:
               Accounts Receivable - Net               (36)              (21)
               Merchandise Inventory                (1,038)             (540)
               Other Operating Assets                  (41)               19
               Accounts Payable                        599               331
               Employee Retirement Plans               (35)               16
               Other Operating
                Liabilities                            389               573
         Net Cash Provided by Operating
          Activities                                 2,037             2,035

    Cash Flows from Investing Activities:
         Decrease (Increase) in
          Investment Assets:
            Short-Term Investments                     144               (24)
            Purchases of Long-Term
             Investments                              (282)               (2)
            Proceeds from Sale/Maturity
             of Long-Term Investments                  189                --
         Increase in Other Long-Term
          Assets                                       (87)              (22)
         Fixed Assets Acquired                      (1,685)           (1,449)
         Proceeds from the Sale of Fixed
          and Other Long-Term Assets                    50                29
         Net Cash Used in Investing
          Activities                                (1,671)           (1,468)

    Cash Flows from Financing Activities:
         Net Decrease in Short-Term
          Borrowings                                   (50)              (50)
         Repayment of Long-Term Debt                   (21)              (45)
         Proceeds from Employee Stock
          Purchase Plan                                 25                23
         Proceeds from Stock Options
          Exercised                                     86                58
         Cash Dividend Payments                        (63)              (47)
         Net Cash Used in Financing
          Activities                                   (23)              (61)

    Net Increase in Cash and Cash
     Equivalents                                       343               506
    Cash and Cash Equivalents, Beginning
     of Period                                         853               799
    Cash and Cash Equivalents, End of
     Period                                         $1,196            $1,305

SOURCE  Lowe's Companies, Inc.
    -0-                             11/17/2003
    /CONTACT:  Shareholders-Analysts, Paul Taaffe, +1-704-758-2033, or Media,
Chris Ahearn, +1-704-758-2304, both of Lowe's Companies, Inc./
    /Photo:  NewsCom:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000720/LOWES
              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 HOU
SU:  ERN ERP CCA

JB-CM 
-- CHM006 --
9810 11/17/2003 07:00 EST http://www.prnewswire.com