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UPDATE 3-Home Depot's profit beat, $15 bln buyback lift shares to new high
February 21, 2017 / 11:35 AM / in 10 months

UPDATE 3-Home Depot's profit beat, $15 bln buyback lift shares to new high

* Q4 sales $22.21 bln vs est $21.81 bln

* Q4 adj profit $1.44/shr vs est $1.34/shr

* Expects 2017 same-store sales growth of 4.6 pct

* Shares rise as much as 2 pct to record high (Adds details, background, CEO and analyst comment; updates shares)

By Gayathree Ganesan

Feb 21 (Reuters) - Home Depot Inc reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit and sales, boosted by a strong housing market in the United States, and set a $15 billion share repurchase program.

Shares of the company, which also forecast 2017 sales ahead of Wall Street estimates, rose as much as 2 percent to a record high of $145.65 in morning trading on Tuesday.

The company remains a bright spot in the retail sector as a firming economy, higher wages and an increase in the value of homes have spurred remodeling activity by homeowners.

“Home Depot is gaining share in a number of high value categories, including appliances,” GlobalData Retail analyst Håkon Helgesen wrote in a note.

“Part of this is down to the poor performance of Sears, which has traditionally been a destination for appliance purchasers, but is now ceding share,” he said.

Home Depot, the biggest U.S. home improvement retailer, said transactions over $900, which represent about 20 percent of the company’s U.S. sales, were up 11.6 percent during the holiday quarter, as customers spent more on flooring products and appliances.

In contrast, a focus on the do-it-yourself customer has been curbing growth at closest rival Lowe’s Cos Inc. The company is scheduled to report its holiday-quarter results next week.

Atlanta, Georgia-based Home Depot said it expected 2017 sales to increase 4.6 percent, which translates to $98.95 billion. Analysts on average were expecting $98.45 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“Turning to 2017, overall GDP growth and strength in the U.S. housing market should continue to support growth in our business,” Chief Executive Officer Craig Menear said on a post-earnings call.

The company’s same-store sales rose 5.8 percent during the three months ended Jan. 29, beating analysts’ average estimate of a rise of 3.5 percent, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.

Quarterly sales rose 5.8 percent to $22.21 billion, beating the average analysts’ estimate of $21.81 billion.

Excluding certain items, Home Depot earned $1.44 per share, ahead of the Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S average estimate of $1.34.

The company said its new buyback program replaces a previous authorization. About $4 billion is left under that plan, the company said.

Home Depot’s board increased the quarterly dividend to 89 cents per share, payable on March 23, from 69 cents per share. (Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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