Lowe's sales feel the chill in Q1

Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s reported net earnings of $540 million for the quarter ended May 3, 2013, a 2.5% increase over the same period a year ago. 

Sales for the quarter decreased 0.5% to $13.1 billion from $13.2 billion in the year-ago quarter. Comparable-store sales for the quarter decreased 0.7%. 

“Results for indoor categories were solid for the quarter, a testament to the team’s continued focus on improving our core business through cross-functional collaboration and consistent execution in stores and across other selling channels,” said Robert Niblock, Lowe’s chairman, president and CEO. 

“Cooler than normal temperatures and greater precipitation resulted in a delayed spring selling season, which impacted our results in exterior categories,” Niblock added. “While overall performance in the month of March was particularly soft, April improved significantly, and we have maintained that positive momentum through the first few weeks of May.”

The company repurchased $1.0 billion of stock and paid $178 million in dividends in the first quarter of 2013, moves that it described as "delivering on the commitment to return excess cash to shareholders."

As of May 3, 2013, Lowe’s operated 1,755 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico, representing 197.5 million sq. ft. of retail selling space.

Lowe's said it expects to open about 10 new stores this year.

Lowe's reported its results the day after rival Home Depot announced first-quarter sales of $19.1 billion, up 7.4%.