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Lowe's Reports Record First Quarter Earnings
Strong February and April Sales Bracketed a Wet, Cold March -- First Quarter Total Sales Increased 14 Percent --

MOORESVILLE, N.C., May 16, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW), the world's second largest home improvement retailer, today reported net earnings of $590 million for the quarter ended April 29, 2005, a 30.5 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Diluted earnings per share increased 32.1 percent to $0.74 from $0.56 in the first quarter of 2004. These comparisons are influenced by the adoption of EITF 02-16 which had the effect of reducing net earnings in the first quarter of 2004.

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Sales for the quarter increased 14.2 percent to $9.91 billion, up from $8.68 billion in the first quarter of 2004. Comparable store sales for the first quarter increased 3.8 percent.

"While an unusually cold, wet March in many parts of the country created challenges, our stores delivered another strong quarter," explained Robert A. Niblock, Lowe's chairman, president and CEO. "We achieved high single-digit comparable store sales in February and April, but they were offset by negative low single-digit comps in weather-affected March.

"We continue to make investments in new stores, improve existing stores and build the infrastructure to facilitate our expansion, and we remain optimistic about the outlook for the balance of the year," Niblock added. "Our Installed Sales, Special Order Sales, and Commercial Business Customers continue to drive our comparable store sales momentum, and we're working hard to continuously improve our customer's experience with inspiring products and great customer service."

During the quarter, Lowe's opened 27 new stores, including 2 relocations. As of April 29, 2005, Lowe's operated 1,112 stores in 48 states representing 126.5 million square feet of retail selling space, a 13.1 percent increase over last year.

A conference call to discuss first quarter 2005 operating results is scheduled for today (Monday, May 16) 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 and clicking on Lowe's First Quarter 2005 Earnings Conference Call Webcast. A replay of the call will be archived on until August 14, 2005.

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.

Second Quarter 2005 (comparisons to second quarter 2004)
     - The company expects to open 27 stores reflecting square footage growth
       of approximately 14 percent
     - Total sales are expected to increase 15 to 16 percent
     - The company expects to report a comparable store sales increase of 4 to
       6 percent
     - Operating margin (defined as gross margin less SG&A and depreciation)
       is expected to be approximately flat as a percent to sales
     - Store opening costs are expected to be approximately $22 million
     - Diluted earnings per share of $1.00 to $1.02 are expected
     - Lowe's second quarter ends on July 29, 2005 with operating results to
       be publicly released on Monday, August 15, 2005

    Fiscal Year 2005 - a 53-week Year
    (comparisons to fiscal year 2004 - a 52-week year)
     - The company expects to open 150 stores in 2005 reflecting total square
       footage growth of 13 to 14 percent
     - Total sales are expected to increase approximately 17 percent for the
     - The company expects to report a comparable store sales increase of
       approximately 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 $132 million
     - Diluted earnings per share of $3.25 to $3.34 are expected for the
       fiscal year ending February 3, 2006

This news release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the "Act"). Statements of the company's expectations for sales growth, earnings and performance, capital expenditures, store openings, 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, fluctuations in and the overall condition of the U.S. economy, environment affecting new store development, the company's ability to attract, train, and retain highly-qualified personnel, stability of costs and availability of sourcing channels, the company's ability to manage its growth and respond to competition, impact of regulatory and legal matters, and the company's ability to absorb lost sales resulting from unanticipated weather conditions. Additional information regarding these and other risks and uncertainties are provided in our periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 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 2004 sales of $36.5 billion, Lowe's Companies, Inc. is a FORTUNE(R) 50 company that serves approximately 11 million customers a week at more than 1,100 home improvement stores in 48 states. Based in Mooresville, N.C., the 59-year old company is the second-largest home improvement retailer in the world. For more information, visit

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

                                                  Three Months Ended
                                                              April 30, 2004
                                             April 29, 2005    As Restated
    Current Earnings                       Amount   Percent  Amount   Percent

    Net sales                               $9,913   100.00   $8,681   100.00

    Cost of sales                            6,498    65.55    5,811    66.94

    Gross margin                             3,415    34.45    2,870    33.06


    Selling, general and administrative      2,136    21.55    1,853    21.35

    Store opening costs                         25     0.25       22     0.25

    Depreciation                               248     2.50      213     2.45

    Interest                                    47     0.47       48     0.55

    Total expenses                           2,456    24.77    2,136    24.60

    Pre-tax earnings                           959     9.68      734     8.46

    Income tax provision                       369     3.73      282     3.25

    Net earnings                              $590     5.95     $452     5.21

    Weighted average shares outstanding -
     Basic                                     774               786

    Basic earnings per share                 $0.76             $0.58

    Weighted average shares outstanding -
     Diluted                                   805               818

    Diluted earnings per share               $0.74             $0.56

    Cash dividends per share                 $0.04             $0.03

    Retained Earnings
    Balance at beginning of period          $9,634            $7,574
    Net earnings                               590               452
    Cash dividends                             (31)              (24)
    Balance at end of period               $10,193            $8,002

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

                                         (Unaudited)   (Unaudited)
                                                         April 30,
                                           April 29,  As Restated  January 28,
                                              2005                      2005

       Current assets:
         Cash and cash equivalents              $911       $1,091        $642
         Short-term investments                  315          901         171
         Accounts receivable - net                18          185           9
         Merchandise inventory                 6,808        5,723       5,982
         Deferred income taxes                   109           90          95
         Other assets                             89           78          75

         Total current assets                  8,250        8,068       6,974

         Property, less accumulated
          depreciation                        14,310       12,177      13,911
         Long-term investments                   161          163         146
         Other assets                            192          222         178

         Total assets                        $22,913      $20,630     $21,209

    Liabilities and shareholders' equity

       Current liabilities:
         Current maturities of long-term
          debt                                  $631          $78        $630
         Accounts payable                      3,464        3,492       2,687
         Accrued salaries and wages              211          166         386
         Other current liabilities             2,623        2,114       2,016

         Total current liabilities             6,929        5,850       5,719

         Long-term debt, excluding
          current maturities                   3,058        3,668       3,060
         Deferred income taxes                   702          622         736
         Other long-term liabilities             208           82         159

         Total liabilities                    10,897       10,222       9,674

       Shareholders' equity:
         Preferred stock - $5 par value,
          none issued                              -            -           -
         Common stock - $.50 par value;
          Shares issued and outstanding
          April 29, 2005           773
          April 30, 2004           783
          January 28, 2005         774           387          392         387
         Capital in excess of par              1,437        2,014       1,514
         Retained earnings                    10,193        8,002       9,634
         Accumulated other comprehensive
          loss                                    (1)           -           -

         Total shareholders' equity           12,016       10,408      11,535

         Total liabilities and
          shareholders' equity               $22,913      $20,630     $21,209

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

                                                    Three Months Ended

                                                               April 30, 2004
                                            April 29, 2005        As Restated
    Cash Flows From Operating Activities:
     Net earnings                                    $590               $452
     Adjustments to reconcile net earnings
      to net cash provided by
      operating activities:
       Depreciation and amortization                  253                218
       Deferred income taxes                          (48)                 -
       Loss on disposition/writedown of
        fixed and other assets                          9                 15
       Stock-based compensation expense                16                 16
       Tax effect of stock options exercised            7                  7
       Changes in operating assets and liabilities:
        Accounts receivable - net                      (9)               (39)
        Merchandise inventory                        (826)            (1,139)
        Other operating assets                        (14)                28
        Accounts payable                              777              1,280
        Other operating liabilities                   442                371
      Net cash provided by operating activities     1,197              1,209

    Cash flows from investing activities:
      Increase in short-term investments             (104)              (156)
      Purchases of long-term investments              (56)               (35)
      Proceeds from sale/maturity of long-
       term investments                                 -                  6
      Increase in other long-term assets              (21)                (5)
      Fixed assets acquired                          (624)              (568)
      Proceeds from the sale of fixed and
       other long-term assets                          16                 23
      Net cash used in investing activities          (789)              (735)

    Cash flows from financing activities:
      Repayment of long-term debt                      (8)                (8)
      Proceeds from stock options exercised            35                 24
      Cash dividend payments                          (31)               (24)
      Repurchase of common stock                     (135)              (288)
      Net cash used in financing activities          (139)              (296)

    Net increase in cash and cash equivalents         269                178
    Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period    642                913
    Cash and cash equivalents, end of period         $911             $1,091

SOURCE Lowe's Companies, Inc.

Shareholders-Analysts, Paul Taaffe, +1-704-758-2033, or Media, Chris Ahearn,
+1-704-758-2304, both of Lowe's Companies, Inc.