* Reports Q1 2019 results on Tuesday, May 21 before the market open
* Revenue expectation: $26.37 billion
* EPS expectation: $2.18
Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) isn't expected to report very promising first-quarter results tomorrow. The largest U.S. home-improvement retailer is releasing earnings tomorrow amid signs of a housing slowdown and a spring season too wet for Americans to go out and buy their gardening supplies.
If these two factors hurt Home Depot’s earnings, it will prolong the weakness that started in late 2018. The company reported comparable sales rose 3.2% in the fiscal fourth quarter that ended in early February, well short of the 4.5% gain analysts had been expecting. That miss came after the company experienced one of the strongest expansions in its history, delivering year-over-year comparable sales growth for 30 straight quarters.
Along with a soft housing market, mother nature isn't helping Home Depot much. Across much of the Great Plains, Midwest and Northeast, the first green burst of spring was about a week to 10 days late, the USA National Phenology Network said on April 30. That means Home Depot sales related to the gardening season, its equivalent of Christmas, may not show much growth in the first quarter. Spring is the season when many shoppers buy gardening supplies and start home renovations, making it a key quarter for home improvement retailers. Home Depot’s Q1 ends April 29.
But beyond these short-term setbacks, there is little to suggest the boom-period for the retailer is over. The latest developments on the economic front, particularly in the housing market, suggest that the housing weakness that started in September of last year isn’t deepening.
U.S. new-home construction rose for a second month and topped estimates in April in a sign of positive momentum for the sector at the start of the second quarter. To counter a possible hit from the U.S.-China trade war, the Fed has moved to the sidelines, helping mortgage rates to stabilize.
Consumer spending, on the other hand, is still solid, as Walmart Inc. (NYSE:NYSE:WMT) showed last week. The world’s largest retailer reported its strongest Q1 comparable sales growth in nine years.
Helped by this economic strength, Home Depot stock has weathered the current market slump nicely, gaining more than 12% this year, to close Friday’s session at $192.58. The other catalysts also boosting the company's upward trajectory are its attractive dividends and massive buyback plan aimed at supporting the stock if it becomes undervalued.
An improving U.S. housing market and strong consumer spending should continue to buoy Home Depot’s share price this year, despite some setbacks early in the year. Any post-earnings weakness should offer a good buying opportunity for investors who are looking for a smart entry point. The retailer is a good buy-and-hold candidate, even through the threat to the economy from the U.S.-China trade war escalation. Its quarterly dividend has expanded 500% over the past decade and, with a healthy payout ratio of 42%, it has lots more room to grow.
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