Whew. I'm glad Ryan did most of the heavy lifting for me. When the best the bull can come up with is "buy 'em both," you know there are troubles. Home Depot (NYSE:HD) isn't just "el cheapo." It is, in the words of my online friends, "teh weaksauce."

Existing stores' sales growth is flagging, and -- most likely for the reasons I've already mentioned -- margins aren't getting any sweeter.

FY Ended
2/1/04

FY Ended
1/30/05

FY Ended
1/29/06

TTM
7/30/06

Gross Margin 31.8% 33.4% 33.5% 33.2%
Operating Margin 10.6% 10.8% 11.6% 11.5%
Net Margin Ex Items 6.6% 6.8% 7.2% 7%
Cash Flow Ops Margin 10.1% 9.4% 8% 7.8%


See how that impressive winning streak seems to be ending over the past 12 months? I don't like the looks of that. And though some may think margin erosion is a one-year problem, I'm not so sure.

One thing I do know, Home Depot: This shareholder would be a lot more comfortable if you paid less attention to buying top-line growth and spent more time "dancing with the girl ya brought."

Think you're done with the Duel? You're not! Go back and read the other three arguments, then vote for a winner .

Home Depot is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Find more superior stock bargains with a free 30-day trial subscription.

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had a position in Home Depot. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. See what he's Digging these days. Fool rules are here.