Lowe's profit up, but same-store sales drop

CHARLOTTE -- Home improvement retailer Lowe's Companies, which continues to struggle amid a sluggish housing market, said Monday that sales at stores open at least a year were down 2.6 percent for the second quarter. Same-store sales are an important indicator of a retailer's health.

Profits were up, however. Lowe's had earnings of $1.02 billion, or 67 cents a share, for the quarter ending Aug. 3, up 9 percent over the same period a year ago. Total profits for the year are down 1 percent so far, and same-store sales are down 4.4 percent.

Sales for the quarter were up 5 percent at $14.2 billion.

Lowe's took less of a hit than larger rival Home Depot, which saw same-store sales drop by 5.2 percent during the second quarter.

Lowe's Chief Executive Robert Niblock said sales in North Carolina were stronger than those in other states such as California and Florida, which have seen a sharp decline in houses being sold.

"Compared to what we're seeing in other regions, North Carolina is doing pretty well," he said.

During the second quarter, sales were strongest in the nursery, lawn and landscape departments, company officials said. Paint and stains also performed well.