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Retooled pricing, superstorm boost Lowe’s earnings

NEW YORK – Lowe’s Cos. said Monday that its third-quarter net income surged 76 percent, helped by lower costs and higher revenue, as the company’s efforts to revamp its merchandise and prices appeared to be gaining traction.

Its adjusted earnings without charges and its revenue both beat Wall Street forecasts. Its shares rose over 6 percent Monday.

Lowe’s has been retooling its pricing strategy, and last summer returned to offering permanent low prices on many items across the store, instead of offering fleeting discounts. But the changes have been slow to catch on, and last quarter Lowe’s said it could take until the middle of next year to reap the benefits of the strategy.

“In the third quarter we furthered our efforts to strike the right promotional cadence, drove more items per ticket, and made tough decisions in order to manage capacity and further our progress on value improvement,” CEO Robert Niblock said in a call with analysts.

The results are also the latest indication that home-improvement retailers and other housing-market-related companies are benefiting from the beginning of a rebound in the housing market, with home prices and home sales growth both improving. Last week rival Home Depot Inc. reported slightly higher third-quarter net income and the company raised its full-year forecast.

In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Niblock said the bottoming out of home values is starting to make people feel better about their homes, but added there is a long way to go.

“We’re certainly moving in right direction,” he said. “But there’s some concern with regard to the looming fiscal cliff and when and how that will be resolved that is on consumers minds as well.”

Home Depot also said last week it benefited from a surge in sales late in the quarter from Superstorm Sandy preparations. Lowe’s said so far the benefit from Sandy is about even with last year’s benefit from Hurricane Irene, but there might be more benefit later as the recovery continues.

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