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Isolated Americans spend at home; Home Depot is there for it

As the year comes to a close Americans are still stuck at home and that has led to an explosive year for Home Depot. The most recent quarter is no exception.

Third-quarter sales surged 23% and the home improvement chain beat expectations by almost any measure.

Revenue totalled $33.54 billion for the three months ended Nov. 1, topping the $31.83 billion that analysts polled by FactSet predicted.

“We saw the continuation of outsized demand for home improvement projects, which has led to sales growth of more than $15 billion through the first nine months of the year,” Chairman and CEO Craig Menear, said in a prepared statement.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of a retailer's health, climbed a stunning 24.1%, topping even the lofty projections for a 17.2% increase on Wall Street. In the U.S., where the coronavirus has run unchecked and kept millions at home, those sales jumped 24.6%.

While home owners have been hunkering down, home sales have been among the bright spots economically during the pandemic. Whether buying a new home, or improving an existing one, home owners continue to head to Home Depot at a healthy pace.

U.S. home construction rose a solid 1.9% in September and applications for building permits, a good barometer of future activity, rose an even stronger 5.2%.

The pandemic has led to a vast shift in spending patterns. At least some of the money once spent on movie tickets, travel, restaurants, amusement parks, sporting events or concerts, is coming back home. While those industries have been devastated, the housing market, and Home Depot, have grown stronger.

The Atlanta home improvement retailer earned $3.43 billion, or $3.18 per share, compared with $2.77 billion, or $2.53 per share, a year earlier. The performance beat the $3.05 per share projected by analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Home Depot Inc. also said Tuesday that it's making temporary financial support programs for its frontline, hourly employees permanent. The value of that program is being put at about $1 billion on an annualized basis.

The big profit numbers arrive a day after Home Depot said it was reuniting with former subsidiary HD Supply in a deal valued at about $8 billion. The acquisition will give Home Depot a stronger hand in the contractor and professional side of its business, which has boomed during the pandemic, like its more consumer facing, DIY sales.

Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press

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