Sometimes it seems as though Wall Street really is arrayed against the buy-and-hold investor. Take Lowe's
As I just said, the second quarter was solid. Total sales rose by about 17% as the company reported 6.5% same-store sales growth and nearly 14% more square footage devoted to sales. Average retail tickets (in other words, amounts spent per transaction) rose about 5%, and the company did well with installed products and special orders. Margins were solid, and the company posted roughly 20% growth in earnings.
Unlike the prior quarter, in which outdoor-related categories were weak, Lowe's saw somewhat broader strength this quarter. Of the company's 19 sales categories, 18 of them had positive comps; only lumber was slightly lower. Based upon management comments, it seems as though Lowe's continues to do quite well with its appliances, gaining share yet again.
Anyone reading this article probably already knows a little bit about Lowe's growth history. Like Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation Home Depot
Well, there's still skepticism. Now the Greek chorus is chanting about the impact of high gas prices and higher interest rates. I'll concede that gas prices are starting to bite into retail spending and shrinking the pool of money that households have to spend at retailers like Lowe's. If gas prices keep rising, more customers will begin to feel pinched, and that will eventually hurt virtually all retailers -- except for supermarkets and pharmacies, I would imagine.
But I really don't think that the housing market is going to hurt Lowe's. If people aren't buying new houses (and new appliances), they're sprucing up older houses. What's more, a broken toilet doesn't care how new the house around it is -- when it's broken, you need to fix it. Likewise with landscaping and maintenance -- new houses that aren't maintained don't keep that "new" look for long.
I won't say that Lowe's is value-priced because I don't necessarily believe that it is. But I do know that proven companies with double-digit growth and double-digit returns on assets aren't a dime-a-dozen. Maybe this isn't the best time to buy into Lowe's, but I don't see any reason to flee, either.
For more on the retailing world:
- Dennis No Menace to Wal-Mart
- Dueling Fools: Home Depot Bull
- The Lumber Chase
- Investors Low About Lowe's
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).