Home Depot sees home improvement in Q3 and beyond

Riding an improving housing market around the country, Atlanta-based Home Depot posted third-quarter sales of $18.1 billion, up 4.6% from the same period last year. Comp-store sales increased 4.2% overall, and increased 4.3% in the United States. 

Despite a charge of about $165 million to close seven stores in China, the company posted net earnings of $947 million, up 1.4% from $934 million in the year-ago quarter. On an adjusted basis, the company's net earnings rose 23.3% to $1.1 billion, the company said.

The performance surpassed Wall Street expectations, and comes amid signs of a housing market recovery and improving prospects for spending on the home.

"Our third-quarter results were better than we expected and reflected. In part, what we believe is the start of the path toward the healing of the housing market," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO.

Based on its performance through the third quarter, Home Depot updated its fiscal 2012 guidance and raised its sales growth guidance to be up a