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Why Did Lowe's Companies, Inc. Stock Jump 12% in March?

By Daniel B. Kline - Apr 7, 2016 at 5:24PM

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The company had a solid Q4 earnings report if you subtract a one-time charge.

Sometimes a single earnings report can reignite optimism in a stock.

That appears to be the case with Lowe's Companies (LOW -0.88%) Q4 results, as the Feb. 24 report's release sent the company's shares on a long, mostly steady climb through the month of March.


What: Lowe's shares closed February at $67.53, then steadily rose all through March before finishing the month at $75.75, a 12.17% climb, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. That rise was driven largely by the company's positive earnings report, which showed that the company had net earnings of $11 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.01 for the quarter ended Jan. 29, 2016.

Those numbers include a non-cash impairment charge of $530 million related to the company exiting its joint venture in Australia. Without that impairment, Q4 looked a lot better, with adjusted net earnings of $541 million, a 20.2% increase over the same period a year ago.

So what: The home improvement company had a strong quarter, with sales growing 5.6% to $13.2 billion from $12.5 billion in the Q4 2014. It also had a good year with total comparable sales up 5.2%. In 2015 the company posted $59.1 billion in sale, a 5.1% increase over 2014.

"We capitalized on increased demand for exterior products as a result of warmer weather, while at the same time helped customers tackle interior projects, allowing us to deliver positive comps in all product categories," said CEO Robert A. Niblock in the Q4 earnings release.

Now what: Lowe's numbers are impressive in the short term, but they also show that the company's category, home improvement, has continued to prove resistant to online competition. It's not that the chain has not lost sales to digital competitors, but the want-it-now, hands-on nature of home repair has given it some protection.

That bodes well for the coming year because it does not appear that any of the major online retailers has anything planned which would cut into what Lowe's can do by operating a network of over 1,800 stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. These results simply verify that even as other brick-and-mortar chains struggle, Lowe's has found a recipe which may not be Internet-proof, but is at least Internet-resistant.

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