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Home Depot: E-com, hurricane recovery sales drive strong results for Q4, FY'17

Executives from The Home Depot Inc. said the company's record-setting fiscal 2017 and impressive fourth quarter were driven by strong hurricane-related recovery sales, online purchases and an attractive, growing housing market.

The home improvement retailer reported that sales for the quarter ending Jan. 28 were up 7.5% year over year to $23.9 billion, while earnings per share rose 5.6% year over year to $1.52. The EPS figure beat the mean consensus estimate for GAAP EPS of $1.43 compiled by S&P Capital IQ. Net income for the quarter increased 2% year over year to $1.78 billion.

During a conference call with analysts following the earnings release Feb. 20, Home Depot Chairman, CEO and President Craig Menear said the company achieved the highest sales and net earnings in its history in fiscal 2017, which he attributed partly to a 21.5% year-over-year increase in online sales during fiscal 2017, which now represent 6.7% of the company's total sales. He added that roughly 46% of U.S. online orders are picked up in stores. "All of this was accomplished during a time of a high degree of change in our business."

The company also said fourth-quarter sales, which totaled $100.9 billion, benefited from cleanup efforts from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which ravaged the coastal areas of Texas and the Southeast U.S. in August and September 2017.

Home Depot CFO and Executive Vice President of Corporate Services Carol Tomé told analysts that the company saw $662 million in hurricane-related sales in the back half of 2017 and anticipated the same sales figures in 2018. Tomé estimated that hurricane-related sales positively impacted total sales by 1.7%, or $380 million, in the fourth quarter. A weaker U.S. dollar also positively impacted sales over the period by $100 million, Tomé said.

Ted Decker, executive vice president of merchandising, said lumber, electrical and tools sales had double-digit comparables, while appliances and building materials also posted above-average gains in the fourth quarter.

Big-ticket items, or those costing more than $900, represented 22% of U.S. sales in 2017, up 9.8% year over year, which Decker attributed to strong sales in fencing and appliances.

Menear said the company expects 2018 to be another year of growth; the company has projected sales growth of 6.5% and diluted earnings per share of $9.31 following the passage of tax reform and a strong housing market, which company officials also said drives home improvement spending.

"We look forward to continuing momentum in 2018," he said.