Home Depot profit rises despite data breach

Associated Press

Home Depot's third-quarter profit rose 14% as sales climbed in the U.S., suggesting that a huge data breach announced two months ago has not shaken the faith of customers.

The nation's biggest home improvement retailer stuck to its outlook for all of 2014, but said it could not account for all possible losses from a data breach it revealed in September that affected 56 million debit and credit cards.

For the three months ended Nov. 2, Home Depot earned $1.54 billion, or $1.15 per share. That compares with $1.35 billion, or 95 cents, a year earlier.

The housing sector had been hit hard early in the year by both bad weather and tight conditions in the market due to rising mortgage rates and a tight supply of homes.

That dragged down the earnings of home improvement retailers, yet Home Depot appears to be distancing itself from those early rough months, beating Wall Street's per-share expectations by a couple of cents, according to a poll of analysts by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue for the Atlanta company climbed 5% to $20.52 billion. That also beat the $20.42 billion in revenue that analysts had expected.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 5.2%. In the U.S., those sales increased 5.8%.

Same-store sales are a key gauge for investors because they exclude volatility from recently opened or closed locations, and provide a better look at a retailer's core health.

Michael Lasser of UBS said comparable-store sales were relatively consistent month to month, suggesting that the data breach didn't have much of an effect.

Home Depot maintained its forecast for fiscal 2014 earnings of about $4.54 per share. It still expects sales to climb about 4.8%.

Home Depot said that going forward, costs related to its data breach may include liabilities to payment card networks for reimbursements of credit card fraud and card reissuance costs; liabilities from current and future civil litigation, governmental investigations and enforcement proceedings and other potential costs.

Those costs may have a material adverse effect on its fourth-quarter results, as well as on future periods, the company said.

Shares of Home Depot fell $2.05, more than 2%, to $95.98.

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