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News Release

Lowe's Reports 24% Increase in First Quarter Net Earnings and 22% Increase in Diluted Earnings Per Share (Including One-Time Charge)

First Quarter Sales Increased 20%

WILKESBORO, N.C., May 17 -- Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW), the world's second largest home improvement retailer, today reported earnings of $125.0 million for the first quarter ended April 30, 1999, a 24 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Diluted earnings per share increased 22 percent to $0.33, up from $0.27 in the first quarter of 1998. First quarter earnings per share include a one-time charge of $0.04 per share for costs related to the merger with Eagle Hardware and Garden, Inc. ("Eagle") on April 2, 1999.

Sales for the quarter, including Eagle, increased 20 percent to $3.77 billion, up from $3.15 billion in the first quarter of 1998. Sales at the company's comparable stores increased 6.7 percent during the quarter. A store enters the comparable store base in the fourteenth month following its grand opening.

There was no LIFO charge or credit included in first quarter Cost of Sales in 1999 or 1998.

Since the merger with Eagle is accounted for as a pooling of interests, the results included herein reflect the combined results of both companies for the entire quarter. In addition, prior year numbers included in this release have been restated to give effect to the company's merger with Eagle. Attached to this release is restated quarterly financial information for fiscal year 1998 for the combined company.

"Lowe's is off to a strong start in 1999 as we continuously improve and execute our three key initiatives -- installed sales, special order sales, and an enhanced focus on the commercial business customer," said Robert L. Tillman, Lowe's chairman and CEO. "During the first quarter, we also completed our merger with Eagle and continue to believe that the acquisition will be slightly accretive to 1999 earnings per share, excluding the one-time charge for merger costs. With the addition of Eagle's stores and highly qualified sales associates, we have expanded into a truly national home improvement retailer."

During the quarter, Lowe's opened eight stores, relocated five stores and closed two older, smaller stores. The company's total store count is 526 stores in 37 states. Retail square footage grew to 49.4 million square feet, a 19 percent increase over the same period a year ago.

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, the direction of general economic trends, the availability of real estate for expansion and its successful development, fluctuations in prices and availability of commodities, unanticipated increases in competition with home improvement chains, adverse weather conditions that affect sales, not fully realized cost savings from the Eagle merger, and greater than anticipated costs associated with the integration of the two businesses.

     Lowe's Companies, Inc.
     Consolidated Statements of Current and Retained Earnings
     In Thousands, Except Per Share Data
 
                                                   Quarter Ended
                                    April 30, 1999              May 1, 1998
     Current Earnings          Amount        Percent        Amount      Percent
 
     Net sales             $   3,771,919     100.00     $  3,149,779     100.00
     Cost of sales             2,764,829      73.30        2,319,276      73.63
     Gross margin              1,007,090      26.70          830,503      26.37
 
     Expenses:
 
     Selling, general and
      administrative             664,351      17.61          569,555     18.08
     Store opening costs          18,210       0.48           12,395      0.39
     Depreciation                 77,920       2.07           68,848      2.19
     Interest                     23,307       0.62           21,639      0.69
     Nonrecurring merger
      costs                       24,378       0.65               --        --
     Total expenses              808,166      21.43          672,437     21.35
     Pre-tax earnings            198,924       5.27          158,066      5.02
     Income tax provision         73,966       1.96           57,339      1.82
     Net earnings          $     124,958       3.31      $   100,727      3.20
 
 
     Shares outstanding -
      Basic                      378,805                     369,639
     Basic earnings per
      share                $        0.33                 $      0.27
     Shares outstanding -
      Diluted                    382,001                     374,309
     Diluted earnings per
      share                $        0.33                 $      0.27
 
 
     Retained Earnings
     Balance at beginning
      of period            $   2,114,248                 $ 1,636,666
     Net earnings                124,958                     100,727
     Cash dividends              (11,390)                     (9,610)
     Balance at end of
      period               $   2,227,816                 $ 1,727,783
 
 
   Lowe's Companies, Inc.
     Consolidated Balance Sheets
     In Thousands
 
 
                                    April 30,         May 1,       January 29,
                                       1999            1998          1999
     Assets
 
     Current assets:
     Cash and cash equivalents    $  1,047,632      $ 715,258     $  228,874
     Short-term investments             17,988         27,781         20,343
     Accounts receivable - net         171,412        150,219        143,928
     Merchandise inventory           2,775,794      2,253,401      2,346,092
     Deferred income taxes              58,504         40,035         56,124
     Other assets                       80,232         57,172         49,021
 
     Total current assets            4,151,562      3,243,866      2,844,382
 
     Property, less accumulated
      depreciation                   4,289,230      3,430,701      4,085,798
     Long-term investments              33,013         39,139         28,716
     Other assets                      114,211         66,487        105,508
 
     Total assets                  $ 8,588,016    $ 6,780,193    $ 7,064,404
 
     Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity
 
     Current liabilities:
     Short-term borrowings         $    92,475    $    93,975    $   117,075
     Current maturities of
      long-term debt                   132,180         30,277        107,893
     Accounts payable                1,715,441      1,427,003      1,220,543
     Employee retirement plans          85,668         70,486         85,466
     Accrued salaries and wages        127,230         83,625        123,545
     Other current liabilities         445,713        377,248        269,734
 
     Total current liabilities       2,598,707      2,082,614      1,924,256
 
     Long-term debt, excluding
      current maturities             1,722,316      1,504,909      1,364,278
     Deferred income taxes             172,226        133,971        175,372
     Other long-term liabilities         3,127          3,122          3,209
 
     Total liabilities               4,496,376      3,724,616      3,467,115
 
     Shareholders' equity
     Preferred stock - $5 par value,
      none issued                           --             --             --
     Common stock - $.50 par value;
      Issued and Outstanding
       April 30, 1999       381,235
       May 1, 1998          370,064
       January 29, 1999     374,388    190,617        185,032        187,194
     Capital in excess of par        1,698,757      1,170,615      1,325,817
     Retained earnings               2,227,816      1,727,783      2,114,248
     Unearned compensation-
      restricted stock awards          (25,780)       (27,900)       (30,387)
     Accumulated other comprehensive
      income                               230             47            417
 
     Total shareholders' equity      4,091,640      3,055,577      3,597,289
 
     Total liabilities and
      shareholders' equity         $ 8,588,016    $ 6,780,193    $ 7,064,404
 
     Lowe's Companies, Inc.
     Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
     In Thousands
 
                                               For the Three Months Ended
                                              April 30,            May 1,
     Years Ended on                             1999               1998
 
     Cash Flows From Operating Activities:
      Net Earnings                       $     124,958         $   100,727
      Adjustments to Reconcile Net Earnings to Net Cash
       Provided by Operating Activities:
        Depreciation                            77,920              68,848
        Amortization of Original Issue
         Discount                                  161                 109
        Decrease in Deferred Income Taxes       (3,700)             (7,860)
        Loss on Disposition/Writedown of
         Fixed and Other Assets                 25,535              12,197
        Changes in Operating Assets and Liabilities:
         Accounts Receivable - Net             (27,484)            (31,811)
         Merchandise Inventory                (429,701)           (335,976)
         Other Operating Assets                (30,820)            (16,331)
         Accounts Payable                      494,898             391,121
         Employee Retirement Plans              18,456              18,550
         Other Operating Liabilities           183,849             145,129
       Net Cash Provided by Operating
        Activities                             434,072             344,703
 
     Cash Flows from Investing Activities:
      (Increase) Decrease in Investment Assets:
        Short-Term Investments                   2,916              (7,611)
        Purchases of Long-Term Investments      (6,554)             (8,193)
        Proceeds from Sale/Maturity of
         Long-Term Investments                   1,509                  --
      (Increase) Decrease in Other
        Long-Term Assets                       (28,975)                831
      Fixed Assets Acquired                   (288,771)           (177,686)
      Proceeds from the Sale of Fixed
       and Other Long-Term Assets                3,652               1,927
      Net Cash Used in Investing Activities   (316,223)           (190,732)
 
     Cash Flows from Financing Activities:
      Net Decrease in Short-Term Borrowings    (24,600)             (4,129)
      Long-Term Debt Borrowings                394,587             328,160
      Repayment of Long-Term Debt              (16,135)             (7,122)
      Proceeds from Stock Offering              348,299                 --
      Proceeds from Stock Options Exercised      10,148              4,871
      Cash Dividend Payments                    (11,390)           (19,196)
      Net Cash Provided by Financing
       Activities                               700,909            302,584
 
     Net Increase in Cash and Cash
      Equivalents                               818,758            456,555
     Cash and Cash Equivalents, Beginning
      of Period                                 228,874            258,703
     Cash and Cash Equivalents, End of
      Period                                 $1,047,632           $715,258
 
     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 first quarter 1999, the Large stores contributed
 86% of sales and 86% 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 57,000 square feet
     4. Large    :    Average of more than 100,000 square feet.
                      All stores in excess of 80,000 square feet.
 
     All Eagle Hardware and Garden stores are greater than 80,000 square feet
 and therefore are included in the Large Store Group.  Further, Large store
 sales are reported on both a comparable (same-store) basis and new (open less
 than fourteen months) basis.  A relocated store is removed from the comparable
 store computation until the fourteenth month following its grand opening.
 
     First Quarter 1999
 
     Table 1:  Store Group Unit Totals, End of First Quarter
                            1999                  1998               1997
                      % of               % of                   % of
                     Total    Units      Total    Units         Total    Units
     Yards             6%      32          6%      30             6%      25
 
     Small             5%      28         10%      49            14%      59
 
     Medium           10%      54         15%      74            21%      91
 
     Large Comp       59%     308         52%     250            41%     182
 
     Large New        20%     104         17%      80            18%      80
 
     Total           100%     526        100%     483           100%     437
 
 
 
     Table 2:  Sales & Operating Profits* by Store Group, First Quarter
                          1999            1998              1997
 
                    Sales    O.P.*    Sales    O.P.*    Sales    O.P.*
     Yards           4%       2%        3%      2%       3%       3%
 
     Small           2%       2%        5%      4%       7%       8%
 
     Medium          8%      10%       13%     17%      21%      29%
 
     Large Comp     66%      70%       59%     62%      51%      50%
 
     Large New      20%      16%       20%     15%      18%      10%
 
     Total         100%     100%      100%    100%     100%     100%
 
     *Operating Profits before corporate expense and intercompany charges, non
      -recurring merger costs, interest, LIFO and income taxes.
 
     Lowe's Companies, Inc. is the second largest retailer of home improvement
 products in the world, serving over four million do-it-yourself retail and
 commercial business customers weekly through 526 stores in 37 states.
 Headquartered in Wilkesboro, N.C., the 53-year old company employs over 70,000
 people.  More information on the company is available on Lowe's web site at
 www.lowes.com .
 
     Lowe's Companies, Inc.
     Supplemental Information
     In Thousands, Except Per Share Data
 
                                              Quarters Ended
                      May 1, 1998   July 31, 1998   Oct. 30, 1998 Jan. 29, 1999
     Current Earnings    Amount         Amount           Amount        Amount
 
     Net sales       $  3,149,779    $ 3,733,642     $  3,278,298  $  3,168,821
     Cost of sales      2,319,276      2,743,765        2,388,063     2,276,533
     Gross margin         830,503        989,877          890,235       892,288
 
     Expenses:
 
     Selling, general
      and administrative  569,555        602,055          578,362       591,438
     Store opening costs   12,395         14,952           20,345        27,878
     Depreciation          68,848         70,455           72,848        76,456
     Interest              21,639         18,810           19,282        21,210
     Total expenses       672,437        706,272          690,837       716,982
     Pre-tax earnings     158,066        283,605          199,398       175,306
     Income tax
      provision            57,339        102,856           72,343        65,083
 
     Net earnings    $    100,727     $  180,749     $    127,055   $   110,223
 
     Shares outstanding -
      Basic               369,639        370,612          371,268       371,729
     Basic earnings per
      share          $       0.27     $     0.49     $       0.34   $      0.30
     Shares outstanding
      - Diluted           374,309        375,666          376,021       376,724
     Diluted earnings
      per share      $       0.27     $     0.48     $       0.34   $      0.29
 
CONTACT:  shareholders, analysts, Marshall Croom, 336-658-4022, or Carson
 Anderson, 336-658-4385, or media, Brian Peace, 336-658-4170, all of Lowe's
 Companies, Inc.