- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) - A strong home-improvement market pushed Home Depot’s profit higher in the fourth quarter, topping expectations.

The Atlanta company’s profit rose 5.6 percent to $1.78 billion, or $1.52 per share, for the three months ended Jan. 28. Earnings, adjusted for pretax expenses, were $1.69 per share.

Revenue rose 7.5 percent to $23.88 billion on an increase in customers at existing stores. Same-store sales, a key measure of a retailer’s health, increased 7.5 percent.

Along with a strong housing market pushing more people to invest in their homes, hurricane recovery efforts in southern states and Puerto Rico also helped boost revenue.

Analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected a quarterly profit of $1.62 per share and $23.66 billion in revenue.

Shares rose more than 2 percent before the market open on Tuesday.

For the full year, Home Depot’s profit climbed 8.5 percent to $8.63 billion as revenue jumped 6.7 percent to $100.9 billion.

Home Depot Inc. is currently heading into its busy spring season and recently said that it would hire over 80,000 seasonal workers. It also announced an app to allow for self-scheduling interviews.

Looking ahead, Home Depot foresees sales climbing 6.5 percent in the new fiscal year, with a profit of $9.31 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expect earnings of $9.36 per share.

The outlook comes amid a persistently strong housing market, though mortgage rates have been creeping higher.

The pace of Americans signing contracts to buy homes increased for a third straight month in December, raising an index of pending home sales by 0.5 percent, according to The National Association of Realtors.

But, mortgage giant Freddie Mac said last week that average long-term mortgage rates have hit their highest level in almost four years.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on HD at https://www.zacks.com/ap/HD

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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