Home Depot Reports Earnings Are Up 12 Percent

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The Atlanta-based home improvement chain reported it's beginning to see improving signs in the housing market. Company officials told analysts that homeowners are taking on more small projects around the house.

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Home Depot says, from its vantage point, there seems to be a turnaround in the housing market. The nation's largest home-improvement chain reported a 12 percent increase in second-quarter earnings.

Joshua Stewart from Georgia Public Broadcasting has the details.

JOSHUA STEWART, BYLINE: A couple of things pushed sales up at Home Depot: The stores moved more big-ticket items like appliances and kitchen installation jobs. But mostly, it was all those little items packed onto the shelves driving sales - everything from spray paint and area rugs to light bulbs and tape.

Company officials told analysts on a conference call that homeowners are taking on more small projects around the house.

Home Depot CEO Frank Blake said the housing market is improving, too - good news for the rest of the year.

FRANK BLAKE: Weather aside, we see strength in the core of our store, stabilization within the hardest-hit housing markets in California and Florida, and signs of gradual improvement within the overall housing market.

STEWART: The weather he's talking about are the tornadoes that ripped through the southeast last spring, boosting sales as people rebuilt. That could've made comparisons to last year less favorable.

Chief Financial Officer Carol Tome says Home Depot also cut expenses to boost profits, including getting more people to use a store-branded credit card.

CAROL TOME: Our credit-card expense was 40 million lower than last year, reflecting lower debit-card fees and a higher penetration of private-label credit sales, coupled with a lower cost of private-label credit.

STEWART: Still, even with cost-cutting and stronger consumer demand boosting revenue two percent, the company fell about $170 million short of Wall Street's expectations. Home Depot's smaller rival, Lowe's, reports its earnings on Monday.

For NPR News, I'm Joshua Stewart in Atlanta.

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