Lowe's (LOW -0.84%) on Wednesday announced earnings results showed it is still trailing its major retailing rival Home Depot (HD -1.86%). Yet the home improvement giant had some good news to report on the profitability front.

A couple shops for home appliances.

Image source: Getty Images.

What happened?

Sales growth landed at 2.5% in the core U.S. market, compared to Home Depot's 5%. That result was just below management's expectations, and Lowe's blamed its struggling e-commerce division for the shortfall. That segment was flat, executives said, while digital sales jumped 21% at Home Depot.

"Our sales growth was driven almost entirely by our U.S. brick and mortar stores," CEO Marvin Ellison said in a press release. Lowe's is working to modernize that digital shopping experience to better compete with world-class platforms like Home Depot's.

What's next?

Lowe's projected that 2020 will include more sales growth, although the pace of gains will trail its bigger peer. The company sees robust earnings gains ahead, though, as cost cuts help profitability expand.

Lowe's said the housing market looks strong, with positive economic growth likely to support another boost in home improvement spending this year. "We are well positioned to capitalize on solid demand in a healthy home improvement market," Ellison explained.