* Q4 EPS ex-items 29 cents vs. Wall St view 24 cents
* Sales up 11 pct at $11.63 bln, topping estimates
* Sees fiscal 2013 EPS $1.75 to $1.85
* Shares up 2.7 percent premarket
By Dhanya Skariachan
Feb 27 (Reuters) - Lowe’s Cos, the world’s second-largest home improvement chain, reported higher-than-expected quarterly sales as a warm winter prompted many homeowners to take up renovation projects that they normally save for the spring.
The results echoed those from larger rival Home Depot Inc , which also reported stellar sales due to strong demand for everything from paint to concrete in the unseasonably warm quarter.
Monday’s results boosted Lowe’s shares 2.7 percent to $27.90 and excited some industry watchers over the prospects of the home-improvement segment once the housing market recovers.
“We encourage investors to look past the near term and think about double-digit margins for all when housing recovers,” said Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter, who has an “outperform” rating on both chains.
Lowe’s is also benefiting from a host of initiatives to win shoppers, including a recent move to shift away from promotions to more every-day low prices.
The retailer has also started offering more localized products, improved its website and tried to enhance the in-store experience by using better signage and technology in stores.
“This also shows a company making progress in its transition,” said Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser, who has a “buy” rating on the stock.
The company’s sales rose 11 percent to $11.63 billion in the fourth quarter that ended on Feb. 3, well ahead of the analysts’ average estimate of $11.34 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.4 percent.
Net income rose to $322 million, or 26 cents a share, from $285 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier.
Excluding special items, the profit was 29 cents a share, beating the analysts’ average estimate of 24 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
For the current fiscal year, Lowe’s forecast earnings of $1.75 to $1.85 a share.