MOORESVILLE, NC-Lowe’s Companies Inc.’s second quarternet earnings spiked 19.7% to $838 million. The chainbeat Wall Street estimates of $1.02 per share byposting earnings per share of $1.05, a 20.7% increaseover the 87 cents recorded in the second quarter of2004.

The positive results were driven by a 17.3% salesincrease and 6.5% comp-store sales growth, accordingto Lowe’s chairman, president and CEO Robert Niblock.For the second quarter, sales reached $11.9 billion,up from $10.2 billion in the second quarter of 2004. Niblock says same-store sales were above the chain’soriginal guidance and that focusing on Lowe’s “Big 3″sales initiatives–installed sales, special ordersales and sales to commercial business customers–paid off during the quarter.

During the second quarter, the chain continued itsexpansion, opening 27 new stores including onerelocation. At the end of the quarter, Lowe’s operated1,138 stores in 49 states totaling 129.4 million sf ofretail selling space, a 13.7% increase over last year.

Lowe’s expects to open 34 stores during the thirdquarter, an increase in sf of 13%. Store opening costsare expected to reach $36 million, according toNiblock. The chain says it expects total sales toincrease approximately 16% during the third quarterand forecasts comparable store sales growth of 4% to6%.

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