updated 2/22/2005 8:07:07 AM ET 2005-02-22T13:07:07

The Home Depot Inc., the nation’s largest home improvement store chain, reported a nearly 10 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings on solid sales, particularly at stores open at least a year.

The Atlanta-based company’s results, announced before the market opened Tuesday, met Wall street expectations.

For the three months ending Jan. 30, Home Depot said it earned $1.04 billion, or 47 cents a share, compared to a profit of $951 million, or 42 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 47 cents a share in the quarter.

Revenue in the quarter was $16.81 billion, an 11.2 percent increase from the $15.13 billion recorded a year ago.

Same-store sales — a measure that compares sales at stores open at least a year — increased 4.6 percent in the quarter.

“As we move into 2005 with significant momentum, we have unwavering commitment to our strategy of enhancing the core, extending the business and expanding our markets,” chief executive Bob Nardelli said in a statement. “We will focus on customer satisfaction and continued improvement in the execution of our strategy to deliver sustainable, profitable growth and shareholder returns well into the future.”

The company’s average sales ticket increased 7.3 percent in fiscal 2004 to $54.89. Customer transactions were 296 million for the fourth quarter, up 3.1 percent from a year ago. For the year, customer transactions were 1.3 billion, up 3.9 percent from the previous year.

The company said it has benefited from new products and by increasing market share in appliance sales. It also is continuing to modernize the look of stores.

Home Depot has announced several hiring initiatives in recent months and reiterated its plans to expand to China, though it hasn’t said when it will open its first store there. The latest hiring initiative seeks Hispanics, especially those who are bilingual, for full- and part-time jobs.

Home Depot currently has 325,000 employees and 1,890 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

For all of fiscal 2004, Home Depot said it earned $5 billion, or $2.26 a share, compared to a profit of $4.30 billion, or $1.88 a share, a year ago. Twelve-month revenue was $73.10 billion, compared to $64.82 billion a year ago.

Rival Lowe’s Companies Inc. of Mooresville, N.C., reports its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings on Wednesday.

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