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The Home Depot record earnings for 2001 exceed $3 billion

The Home Depot, Atlanta, GA, reported record net earnings of $3.0 billion for fiscal 2001, an increase of 18% compared with net earnings of $2.6 billion in fiscal 2000. Sales for fiscal 2001 increased 17% to $53.6 billion and comparable store sales were flat.
For the fourth quarter of 2001, net earnings increased a record 53% to $710 million from $465 million in the fourth quarter of 2000.

Sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001 totaled $13.5 billion, an increase of 29% from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2000. Comparable store sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001 grew 5%.

The fourth quarter of 2001 consisted of 14 weeks compared with 13 weeks for the prior year. The full year included 53 weeks compared with 52 weeks for the prior year. The 14th week added approximately $880 million in sales and increased earnings per share by approximately $.03 for the quarter and year. The additional week had no impact on comparable sales performance for the quarter or year.

"In the fourth quarter, The Home Depot delivered the strongest earnings gains since 1989 despite an uncertain economy. These results reflect the willpower and effort of our dedicated associates, who are focused on customer service," said Bob Nardelli, chairman, president & CEO of The Home Depot. "Our customers responded to an extended building season, supported by warm weather in November and early December, as well as the great values we offered throughout the quarter. We were particularly pleased with the response to our company-wide January clearance event that drove sales while positioning our stores for new, exciting merchandise in the spring.

"In light of today's economic conditions, Home Depot ended the year in a very strong financial condition, with equity of $18 billion, a debt-to-equity ratio under 7%, and a record $2.5 billion in cash," said Nardelli.

During the quarter, Home Depot opened 43 new stores, bringing the total store openings for the year to 204. At the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001, the company operated a total of 1,333 stores. The company also added 150 stores to its program offering special services to the professional customer, bringing the total number of stores in the pro initiative to 535.

"For the first time, Home Depot had more than one billion customer transactions in a year," said Nardelli. "We are grateful to our loyal customers, who continued to make us the most admired specialty retailer in the Fortune Most Admired list for the ninth consecutive year. The company's financial performance reflects a growing ability at Home Depot to perform well in a variety of economic climates. The increasing strength of our balance sheet and improving fundamentals in sales and margins are allowing us to continue to invest for the future."

The Home Depot indicated it expects to meet the current Wall Street earnings consensus of $0.32 diluted earnings per share for the first quarter of fiscal 2002, an increase of 18%.

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