The home improvement chains' quarterly sales and profit rose, but they paled in comparison to archrival Home Depot's performance. Fred Katayama reports.
Lowe's quarterly sales rose across all product categories and in all regions, and profit was up, too. Lowe's CEO Robert Niblock called it a "another strong quarter." And it was --- compared to most other retailers. But not as strong as Home Depot's. Profit at the largest home improvement chain grew at nearly twice the pace of Lowe's. And its sales growth was faster, too. Piper Jaffray says Lowe's should've done better given the earlier onset of warmer spring weather and its high exposure to outdoor seasonal goods like grills and garden products. One factor for the underperformance may have been the location of Lowe's stores. They tend to be in outer metropolitan areas, where the housing recovery has been slower to take root. Lowe's is sticking with its current sales and earnings targets unlike Home Depot, which raised theirs. Evercore ISI senior analyst Greg Melich said, "The 3 percent comparable (store sales) that we currently model could be hard to achieve - all depending on how May is trending." Lowe's stock, which has underperformed that of Home Depot's this year, dropped in early trading.