Top home improvement chain Home Depot Inc. gave an outlook for the next financial year that could miss Wall Street expectations amid continued weakness in the U.S. economy and its shares fell.
Home Depot's forecast for the 12 months ending January 2012 calls for earnings of $2.19 to $2.23, while analysts on average were expecting a $2.22 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The retailer's shares were down 0.8 percent at $33.27 in premarket trading.
The news came ahead of a meeting with investors on Wednesday, when the company will shed light on its efforts to boost its online business and other efforts to drive sales and margins.
In a telephone interview ahead of the meeting, Chief Financial Officer Carol Tome told Reuters that the company will launch a facility that allows shoppers to buy online and pick up in store in 2011.
"The customer is changing... customers are shopping with their phones," Tome said.
For 2011, the company sees sales rising 2 percent to 2.5 percent and earnings per share from continuing operations rising 11 percent to 13 percent, after share repurchases.
Home Depot's 2011 financial year begins in February.
The company raised its outlook for the rest of this year citing strong sales in November.
"November was a terrific selling month for us. The trends continue into December," Tome said.
The home improvement retailer saw strength across the store in November, not just in holiday season items, Tome said.
For the current fiscal year, it now sees earnings of $1.97 a share, up from $1.94 a share. It sees sales rising 2.3 percent, versus its prior outlook of a 2.2 percent increase.
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