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Put The Home Depot, Inc. (HD) on Your “Honey-do” List

The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) recently checked a trio of items off its to-do list: post better than expected earnings, raise the dividend, and implement a share buyback.

The Atlanta based home improvement chain just reported that net income in the latest quarter soared 32% to $1.02 billion, or 68 cents per share. That was up from $774 million or 50 cents a year earlier.  Revenue roared ahead by 13.9% to $18.2 billion. Profit was 67 cents, handily beating the 64 cents analysts had expected. The revenue number also surpassed Wall Street estimates of $17.69 billion.

The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD)The home improvement behemoth plans to buy back some $17 billion of its own shares. It also raised its quarterly dividend 34% to 39 cents from 29 cents a share.

For the year, the world’s No. 1 home improvement chain forecast earnings of $3.37 per share, lower than analysts’ expectations of $3.49. That somewhat disappointing figure followed similar uninspiring guidance from rival Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW).

Lowe’s, the world’s second largest home improvement chain, posted Q4 earnings of 26 cents per share, down from 29 cents in the year-earlier period. Revenue slipped 5%. Lowe’s outlook for fiscal 2013 was tepid. The company expects to earn $2.05 a share. Analysts were estimating more near $2.10 per share.

Lowe’s has trailed behind Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD), its largest competitor, for some time. Lowe’s is the midst of its own makeover. In efforts to improve its appearance and performance, Lowe’s has closed some stores, curtailed openings, slashed jobs and streamlined its supply chain. Not exactly the kind of moves in line with growth and expansion.

But, both retailers should enjoy brisk traffic and sales in the months ahead. Superstorm Sandy’s wrath, which damaged or destroyed more than 600,000 homes in New York and New Jersey alone, will be felt for a good while as homeowners repair and homebuilders build.

In addition, nearly four months after the ravaging storm, New Jersey just received its $50.7 billion Hurricane Sandy aid package. Those funds are just beginning to be put to work and should provide plenty of business to both Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) and Lowe’s. Take it from someone who lives on the Jersey shore. The repairs have been slow. It will take years and years before any sense of normalcy is attained. And kudos to Lowe’s for handing out free Duracell batteries and having a Tide laundry truck on hand at Jersey Shore locations following the monster Halloween hurricane.

But it’s Home Depot who is energized and cleaning up in the storm’s aftermath.