Home improvement giants Home Depot and Lowe’s shook off slowdown fears last week by reporting solid financial results for the first quarter.
“Fiscal 2022 is off to a strong start as we delivered the highest first-quarter sales in company history,” Ted Decker, CEO and president of Home Depot, said in a letter to shareholders. “The solid performance in the quarter is even more impressive as we were comparing against last year’s historic growth and faced a slower start to spring this year.”
Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s president and CEO, gave a strong revenue outlook in a letter to shareholders.
“Our sales this quarter were in line with our expectations, excluding our outdoor seasonal categories that were impacted by unseasonably cold temperatures in April. Because 75% of our customer base is DIY, our Q1 sales were disproportionately impacted by the cooler spring temperatures. Now that spring has finally arrived, we are pleased with the improved sales trends we are seeing in May,” said Ellison.
Home Depot and Lowe’s may not have been heavily impacted by the 40-year-high inflation that is beginning to take its toll on consumer spending at conventional retailers like Target and Walmart.
“For Home Depot, consumer spending has been strong, and their business has yet to feel any effects from inflation,” Scott Sheridan, CEO of retail brokerage Tastyworks, told International Business Times. “Home Depot is a little less exposed to some of those factors, but could find themselves a victim of inflation, especially if we see that spillover into commodities such as lumber.”
The strong performance of home improvement stocks has come as a surprise to some. The home improvement industry had remained strong during the pandemic recession when the shelter in place mandates forced people to spend more time at home and catch up with home improvements.
Now that these mandates are over and life has returned to normal, one would expect the home improvement renaissance to cool off. But apparently, it didn’t.
“Following a steady period of massive growth that continued into the start of 2022, the wider home improvement sector saw a significant visit slowdown in March and April,” Ethan Chernofsky, vice president of marketing at traffic analytics platform Placer.ai, told IBT. “This indicated either that the wider home improvement surge was slowing down or that the current economic headwinds were impacting visits when compared to the start of the segment’s normal seasonal peak. Yet, Home Depot and other home improvement leaders did see visits begin to pick up the pace again by late April with that trend continuing into May.”
Chernofsky sees the long-term benefit offered by significant migration shifts spurred by the pandemic continuing for some time.
“The home improvement sector could be in store for yet another extended period of growth,” he said. “While it may not reach the heights seen in the early stages of the pandemic, retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Tractor Supply were clearly given an extended boost as a result.”
Are home improvement stocks still a buy?
David Keller, chief market strategist at Stock Charts, is cautious in the near term.
“HD is currently down almost 30% from all-time highs in December 2021, which suggests perhaps the concerns about inflation and interest rates may already be priced in,” Keller told IBT. “However, the stock remains in an established downtrend, having recently made another new low for 2022.”
Panos Mourdoukoutas owns shares of Home Depot and Lowe’s.