Home Depot (HD -0.01%) today posted second-quarter earnings results that showed how a long-running housing rebound is powering strong growth in its business. The home-improvement retailer booked 4% higher sales along with a 15% jump in profits. Management also raised its sales and earnings outlook for the second time this year.
The stock, which is up 14% so far in 2015 and near an all-time high, was up about 2% by 12:30 p.m. today.
Overall, second-quarter top- and bottom-line figures were both slightly above Wall Street's expectations:
|Revenue||$24.7 billion||$24.8 billion|
|Profit||$1.71 per share||$1.73 per share|
Home Depot stores logged a 3% customer traffic gain, which, along with 2% higher average spending, powered the 5.7% jump in comparable-store sales. While that was a slowdown from the prior quarter's 7.1% comps improvement pace, it still beat management's expectations. "We were pleased with this quarter's results," said CEO Craig Menear. "We saw balanced growth across our business resulting from strength in the core of the store as well as the continued recovery of the U.S. housing market."
The financial strength of Home Depot's business shined through in these results. Thanks to lower costs across the business, operating margin ticked higher to 14.8% of sales from last year's 14.5%. Net income rose by 9% to easily outpace the 4% sales gain. Yet, because the outstanding share count is falling due to share repurchases, Home Depot's per-share earnings spiked higher by 15% to reach $1.73 per share.
The operations added to a growing cash pile as well: Operating cash flow is up 13% through the last six months to $5.9 billion. At that pace, Home Depot should have no problem funding its $3 billion annual dividend commitment to shareholders while investing in the business and spending any excess earnings on stock repurchases.
Steadily climbing outlook
In fact, management plans to keep up the aggressive spending on stock buybacks with $4 billion of repurchases expected over the next six months. That's one key driver behind the 14% earnings improvement Menear and his team are forecasting for the full year.
But those expectations keep climbing higher. Executives today raised their 2015 profit forecast to as much as $5.36 per share, compared to the $5.27 per share they estimated last quarter and the $5.17 per share they had initially targeted at the beginning of the year. The updated $5.36-per-share figure is above the $5.27 per share that Wall Street pros had been modeling before today's results were posted.
With two strong quarters behind it, Home Depot is also getting more optimistic about its 2015 comps sales growth potential. That target is now 4.5% for the full year, up from the 4.3% forecast last quarter and the 3.9% that management expected at the start of 2015.