Home improvement is one of the top activities that kept Americans busy during the pandemic, a trend that enabled The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE: HD) to beat the crisis and generate stable sales. Interestingly, the store operator maintained the momentum even after markets reopened, thanks to measures like the expansion of its digital platform.
The Atlanta-headquartered home décor firm’s stock market performance has been relatively stable, compared to the broad market that was hit by the recent selloff. However, HD is not fully insulated from the downturn and has lost about 20% so far this year. Compared to others in the industry, the stock is probably selling at a premium in relation to earnings.
However, the high valuation is justified by the successful business model that helped the company shrug off the pandemic-linked disruption and adapt quickly to changes in the retail environment. Besides that, its cash position and balance sheet are quite healthy.
The highlight of the second-quarter report is a sharp increase in customer transactions sequentially, recovering from the weakness seen in the trailing three quarters. In the past few years, the company brought cheer to shareholders every time it announced quarterly results, reporting earnings and revenues that regularly topped expectations, which can be linked to the thriving housing market to some extent.
Higher transactions resulted in a 7% rise in net sales to a record high of around $44 billion. Earnings moved up 12% year-over-year to an all-time high of $5.05 per share, exceeding experts’ projections. Meanwhile, there was continued softness in comparable store sales growth compared to the pandemic-driven highs seen a year earlier.
The rapid growth of the home improvement market indicates that leading players like Home Depot and Lowe’s Companies (NYSE: LOW) have enough room for further expansion. In the most recent quarter, Lowe’s sales remained unchanged amid weak comparable sales performance, and net profit declined 1% to $3.0 billion.
As far as the top line is concerned, Home Depot enjoys an edge due to factors like effective merchandising and favorable inventory position, which require special attention due to elevated inflation and supply chain issues. Also, margins have not suffered because the company does not compromise on prices. However, the volatile macroeconomic conditions don’t bode well for the business as a potential recession would slow down the housing market. Also, if inflation pressures persist, it would affect average order volumes and weigh on comparable store sales.
“We continue to see improved conversion rates, as ongoing enhancements within our digital properties are resonating with our customers. Our team is focused on what is most important, our associates and customers, our merchants, store and met teams, supplier partners and supply chain teams did an outstanding job delivering value and service to our customers throughout the quarter. Based on first half results, 100% of our stores qualified for Success Sharing, our profit-sharing program for hourly associates,” said Home Depot’s CEO Ted Decker in a statement this week.
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