Home Depot Profit Falls on Housing Weakness

Atlanta The Home Depot said on Tuesday that quarterly profit fell 66% as the U.S. housing meltdown hurt sales and it took a charge to close stores and curb expansion plans.

Net income fell to $356 million in the first quarter ended May 4, from $1.05 billion a year earlier. Results included a charge of $543 million to close 15 underperforming U.S. stores and scrap plans to open 50 stores that had been in the company's pipeline.

Sales fell 3.4% to $17.9 billion, exceeding analysts' estimates of $17.63 billion. Same-store sales fell 6.5%.

"The housing and home improvement markets remained difficult in the first quarter; in fact, conditions worsened in many areas of the country," Home Depot chairman Frank Blake said in a statement.

The disappointing performance could have been worse, but was offset to some extent by a seasonal shift that added approximately $536 million to Home Depot’s first-quarter results.