Net sales edged up 1.8 percent to $10.2 billion in the quarter, and gross margin improved by 122 basis points. These items helped offset a 4 percent gain in total expenses. For the full fiscal year, Lowe’s posted a drop of 18.8 percent in net income, to $1.78 billion; and a decline of 2.1 percent in net sales to $47.2 billion.
The fourth-quarter results “suggest the worst of the economic cycle is likely behind us,” said Robert Niblock, Lowe’s chairman and chief executive officer. “While the psychological impact of falling home prices and an uncertain employment picture continue to weigh on consumers, improving comparable-store sales trends, including improvement in many bigger-ticket project categories, provides an encouraging sign that consumers are gaining the confidence to take on more discretionary projects.”