The home improvement chain reported better-than-expected U.S. comparable sales growth for the quarter ended Oct. 28 thanks to homeowners and contractors splurging on higher end, exclusive products Home Depot has been adding to its assortment to give consumers a reason to go there rather than to a rival like Lowe’s.
“People are responding to innovation and willing to pay for it,” Home Depot chief financial officer Carole Tomé told Fortune after the earnings report was published. That includes a bigger focus on products like the Diablo saw blade brand, which she says last longer and has sharper blades. “The pros (professional contractors) say, ‘This is going to save me time’ so they buy it,” she added.
That helped Home Depot offer solace to investors worried about signs that the U.S. housing market is cooling, and that the chain will get less of a boost this year from hurricane season.
“Housing-related metrics are moderating, but the drivers of home improvement spend are supportive of our outlook,” Tomé told Wall Street analysts earlier. “Home prices continue to appreciate, the housing stock is aging, households are being formed and housing continues to turn over.” And as home values rise, consumer are more likely to want to spend on an asset they see as appreciating.
Sales at U.S. Home Depot stores open for more than a year surged 5.4% during the third quarter, beating Wall Street estimates for 4.8% growth, according to Consensus Metrix. Total sales rose 5.1% to $26.30 billion in the quarter.
The good results prompted Home Depot to raise its full year forecast: the Atlanta-based retailer now expects sales to rise 7.2% in the year ending January, up from an earlier forecast of 7% growth. And it now projects earnings to be $9.75 per share rather than $9.42 previously.