December 12, 2018 / 5:01 PM / a year ago

Lowe's to buy back $10 billion shares, reiterates 2018 forecast

A view of the sign outside the Lowes store in Westminster, Colorado February 26, 2014. Lowe's Cos Inc reported strong growth in quarterly sales, showing that the No. 2 U.S. home improvement retailer was narrowing the gap with market leader Home Depot Inc. Lowe's shares rose more than 6 percent in early trading, after the company reported that net sales increased 5.6 percent to $11.66 billion in the fourth quarter ended January 31. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS) - GM1EA2R0CBB01

(Reuters) - U.S. home improvement chain Lowe’s Cos Inc (LOW.N) on Wednesday approved a $10 billion share repurchase program and reiterated its full-year forecast for sales growth that was roughly in line with Wall Street expectation.

Lowe’s has been shutting underperforming stores and cutting back on slow-moving inventory, an attempt by new Chief Executive Officer Marvin Ellison to address investor concerns over its inability to compete with Home Depot Inc (HD.N).

“We have substantially completed a detailed reassessment of our business,” Ellison said during the company’s investor day, adding that the “transformational changes will take time.”

Just last month the company said it was looking to exit its retail operations in Mexico and two of its smaller U.S. businesses.

The company’s share buyback plan is in addition to the $4.5 billion remaining as part of its previous repurchase program.

Lowe’s retained its 2018 forecast sales growth of about 4 percent, while analysts were expecting a 4.11 percent rise.

The company also expects comparable store sales growth of about 3 percent for the year ending January 2020, higher than the 2.5 percent increase that the company is expecting for 2018.

Shares of the company rose nearly 4 percent to $92.66 in afternoon trading, while those of Home Depot gained 2 percent.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Arun Koyyur

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