Mild weather warms up Home Depot sales

ATLANTA — Boosted by mild temperatures and spring-like selling conditions throughout much of the country, Home Depot saw sales rise nearly 6% in the fourth quarter.

The home improvement giant reported fourth-quarter sales of $16.0 billion, up 5.9% from the same quarter last year. Comparable store sales were positive 5.7%, and up 6.1% in the United States.

"We had a strong finish to 2011, and with favorable weather, our business delivered results that exceeded our expectations," said CEO Frank Blake. 

The performance also exceeded the expectations of most of analysts on Wall Street, where expectations had called for about $15.5 billion in sales for the quarter. 

Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $774 million, up 31.9% from the fourth quarter last year.

For the full year, Home Depot's sales increased 3.5% to $70.4 billion, as comp-store sales increased 3.4% in total, and increased 3.0% in the U.S. Earnings for the full year were $3.883 billion, up 16.3% from earnings of $3.338 billion in 2010.

Looking ahead to 2012, Home Depot expects sales growth of about 4%, including an extra week in the upcoming fiscal year. The company also plans 11 new stores in 2012.