What happened

Home improvement giant Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) trailed the market last month, dropping 15% compared to a 4% decrease in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

^SPX Chart

^SPX data by YCharts.

The slump widened the gap between Lowe's and its chief rival, Home Depot (NYSE:HD), which has seen its shares rise 60% over the past three years compared to a 16% increase for Lowe's.

So what

Lowe's fourth-quarter results didn't stack up well against the industry giant. In late February, the retailer announced a 4.1% increase in comparable-store sales that, while slightly better than expected, trailed Home Depot's 7.5% rate.

A contractor installs a window in a home.

Image source: Getty Images.

Profitability dipped, too, even as the retailer endured a modest drop in customer traffic. Home Depot, in contrast, managed a healthy 2% traffic boost.

Now what

CEO Robert Niblock and his team aren't happy with their broader retailing trends, so they've announced a wide range of initiatives they'll be taking in 2018 aimed at boosting sales growth, gross profit margin, and financial efficiency.

Management's forecast, meanwhile, predicts another year of yielding modest market share to the industry leader. Comps are projected to rise by 3.5%, compared to Home Depot's expectations of a 5% increase.

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