Home Depot raises full-year earnings guidance

Home DepotHome Depot Inc., the nation’s largest home improvement retailer, said Wednesday that its full-year earnings from continuing operations may come in better than previously forecast.

The move comes a few weeks after smaller rival Lowe’s Cos. raised its full-year outlook. Home Depot’s stock rose 26 cents to $24.61 in morning trading.

Atlanta-based Home Depot now sees earnings per share from continuing operations to be flat to down 7 percent. Prior guidance called for a 7 percent decline.

The retailer also expects adjusted earnings per share to be down 20 percent to 26 percent. Its previous outlook was for a 26 percent decline.

In 2008, Home Depot had earnings from continuing operations of $1.37 per share. Its adjusted earnings from continuing operations were $1.78 per share. This implies 2009 earnings from continuing operations of $1.27 to $1.37 per share and adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $1.32 to $1.42 per share.

The retailer maintained its outlook for an approximately 9 percent sales decline, which would mean sales of about $64.9 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, whose estimates generally exclude one-time items, predict full-year profit of $1.40 per share on sales of $65.27 billion.

Home Depot reiterated its forecast for same-store sales to decline in the high single digits.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, are a key indicator of retailer performance since they measure growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones.

Home Depot, which has 2,238 retail stores, will hold its investor and analyst conference later today.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.