A sign is seen posted on the exterior of a Home Depot store on February 21, 2023 in El Cerrito, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Home Depot topped earnings expectations Tuesday, but posted a 2% year-over-year sales decline as customers remained wary of big purchases and major projects.
It marked the first time in three quarters that the company beat Wall Street’s revenue expectations.
Yet the Atlanta-based home improvement retailer reiterated its muted forecast for the fiscal year despite the beat, saying it still expects sales and comparable sales to decline between 2% and 5% compared with the year-ago period. It had lowered the forecast last quarter.
In an interview Tuesday, Chief Financial Officer Richard McPhail said the company has seen “continued caution on the part of consumers when it comes to larger-ticket, more discretionary spending.” He said in some cases, homeowners already made those bigger purchases during the Covid pandemic. In other instances, they are likely deferring them because of higher interest rates.
McPhail said key pandemic dynamics are reversing, too. Transportation costs have dropped. Vendors aren’t coming to Home Depot with as many requests for price increases. He added that supply chain disruption is “largely behind us.”
“We don’t expect to see meaningful inflation in the second half of the year,” McPhail said.
Here’s what the retailer reported for its fiscal second quarter compared with what Wall Street was anticipating, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:
- Earnings per share: $4.65 vs. $4.45 expected
- Revenue: $42.92 billion vs. $42.23 billion expected
The company reported net income for the three-month period that ended July 30 of $4.66 billion, or $4.65 per share, down from $5.17 billion, or $5.05 per share, a year earlier. Revenue fell year over year from $43.79 billion.
Shares of Home Depot closed modestly higher Tuesday.
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Home Depot faces a more challenging sales backdrop, as demand for do-it-yourself projects and contractors normalizes after nearly three years of unusually high demand. McPhail, the company’s CFO, told investors earlier this year that 2023 would mark a year of moderation, as customers returned to more typical pre-pandemic patterns.
On top of that, the retailer faces a weakening housing market, inflation and consumers’ shift to spending more on services instead of goods.
But McPhail said Tuesday that Home Depot’s typical customers are in good financial shape, thanks in part to sharp home equity gains during Covid. They are still hiring contractors, but for more small projects.
“Generally speaking, the homeowner customer — who is really our customer — remains healthy and remains engaged in home improvement,” he said.
Cooling inflation has also shown up in Home Depot’s sales trends. McPhail said the company has not seen deflation, but is now in a period of “price settling.” Home Depot has lowered retail prices in some cases, he said. The reductions are not concentrated in any particular category.
Home Depot noticed that as the company’s ticket, or typical amount spent by a customer, decreased, its number of shopper transactions began to rise, he said.
Comparable sales in the U.S. and companywide declined by 2% in the fiscal second quarter, but that exceeded expectations for a 3.9% decline, according to FactSet. It marked the third straight quarter of falling comparable U.S. sales.
Total customer transactions fell by about 2% compared with the year-ago period, but the average ticket was roughly flat at $90.07.
On an earnings call, CEO Ted Decker said sales to home professionals were stronger than sales to do-it-yourself customers, but both fell from the year-ago period. He said the backlog of jobs for pros that stacked up during high demand for work during the pandemic has dropped in the last year, but is still higher than historic levels.
Home Depot said in its earnings release that the company’s board of directors approved $15 billion in share buybacks, which will take effect Tuesday.
As of Monday’s close, Home Depot’s shares are up 4% so far this year. That’s trailed behind the nearly 17% gain of the S&P 500. The company’s stock closed at $329.95 on Monday, down less than 1%.