Amid a deepening housing slump, Lowe’s hammered out still more profits last year. While archrival Home Depot was beset by management and financial woes, the Mooresville (N.C.) company quietly stuck to its strategy of building cleaner, brighter retail stores in new markets and keeping customers happy with better service. For fiscal 2006, ended Feb. 2, the nation’s second-largest home improvement retailer saw net income jump 12.3%, to $3.1 billion, on sales of $46.9 billion, though both measures slumped in the fourth quarter as the housing slowdown pinched growth. Even so, Lowe’s profitable year was a marked contrast to Home Depot’s, which lost its CEO and reported the first-ever decline in net income in its 29-year history. With no such controversies to distract it, Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock continued to poke Home Depot in the eye by adding 150 sparkly new stores—often just across the street from its rival’s aging orange boxes.
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|Total Return||Past 12 Months|
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|Economic Sector||Consumer Discretionary|
|Industry||Home Improvement Retail|