ATLANTA (AP) — Home Depot reported better-than-expected profit and revenue in the fourth quarter and comparable-store sales jumped as the company continues to ride a sustained recovery in the housing market.
The nation's largest home improvement retailer boosted its quarterly dividend by 17 percent and shares rose 1.4 percent to $124.53 Tuesday on powerhouse earnings in what is typically a down season for this sector of the retail industry.
It is a good omen as tax refund and home upgrade season approaches.
And there were more signs of strength Tuesday on the housing front.
U.S. home sales crept upward in January, when most economists were projecting a decline. The median home sales price was $213,800, up 8.2 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The stronger-than-expected start follows a very big year for housing in 2015.
Builders last year broke ground on 1.1 million properties, the most since 2007 when the housing bubble was beginning to burst into a broader recession. The National Association of Realtors reported last month that that sales of existing homes climbed 14.7 percent in December, capping a year in that produced the highest annual sales total since 2006.
Home Depot earned $1.47 billion, or $1.17 per share, for the three months ended Jan. 31. A year earlier the Atlanta company earned $1.38 billion, or $1.05 per share.
The per-share earnings were 7 cents better than Wall Street had expected, according to analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.
Revenue rose to $20.98 billion from $19.16 billion, also topping the $20.35 billion that analysts projected.
Sales at stores open at least a year, a key indicator of a retailer's health, climbed 7.1 percent. At U.S. locations, they increased 8.9 percent.
For the year, The Home Depot Inc. reported a profit of $5.46 per share on revenue of $88.52 billion. Fiscal 2015 results included a pretax expense of 6 cents per share related to the company's 2014 data breach.
Home Depot said Tuesday that it is raising its quarterly dividend by a dime, to 69 cents per share. The dividend will be paid on March 24 to shareholders of record on March 10.
Home Depot anticipates fiscal 2016 earnings between $6.12 and $6.18 per share. Sales are predicted to climb about 5.1 percent to 6 percent, with same-store sales growth of approximately 3.7 percent to 4.5 percent.
Analysts polled by FactSet expect full-year earnings of $6.15 per share.
Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on HD at http://www.zacks.com/ap/HD
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