updated 5/17/2005 7:33:58 AM ET 2005-05-17T11:33:58

Home Depot Inc., the nation's largest home improvement store chain, reported a more than 13 percent jump in first-quarter profit on solid gains in revenue, though sales at stores open at least a year were up only modestly.

The results, announced before the market opened Tuesday, beat Wall Street expectations.

The Atlanta-based company said it earned $1.25 billion, or 57 cents per share, for the three months ending May 1, compared to a profit of $1.1 billion, or 49 cents per share, for the same period a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, Home Depot said it earned $1.31 billion, or 60 cents per share. On that basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 55 cents per share.

Revenue in the quarter rose 8 percent to $18.97 billion from $17.55 billion recorded a year ago, but missed analysts' estimates of $19.26 billion.

Same-store sales _ a measure that compares sales at stores open at least a year — rose 2.1 percent in the quarter.

"Through the hard work and dedication of our 325,000 associates we effectively managed our business, produced solid earnings growth and stayed on strategy," chief executive Bob Nardelli said. "Our relentless focus on our customers is delivering solid progress in key satisfaction metrics."

The one-time items in the quarter stem from the company's decision to dispose of its interest in the underlying real estate of 15 EXPO Design Center stores, which resulted in $86 million in expenses. The company also recorded $20 million of expense related to inventory markdowns. The company said the stores will close at some point in the future, and it also plans to convert five EXPO stores to The Home Depot store format.

The remaining 34 EXPO stores are profitable and will continue operating, Home Depot said.

The company also reaffirmed its fiscal 2005 earnings per share growth guidance of 10 percent to 14 percent, on anticipated sales growth of 9 percent to 12 percent. Analysts expect Home Depot to post earnings of $2.55 per share on $80.46 billion in sales for the year.

Home Depot ended the quarter with 1,911 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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