​Home Depot wraps up big year with another big quarter

ATLANTA - Home Depot (HD) reported better-than-expected profit and revenue in the fourth quarter and comparable-store sales jumped as the company continues to ride a sustained recovery in the housing market.

The nation's largest home improvement retailer also boosted its quarterly dividend by 17 percent.

Solid job gains and low mortgage rates have fueled a rebound in home sales.

Builders last year broke ground on 1.1 million properties, the most since 2007 when the housing bubble was beginning to burst into a broader recession. The National Association of Realtors reported last month that that sales of existing homes climbed 14.7 percent in December, capping a year that produced the highest annual sales total since 2006.

Home Depot earned $1.47 billion, or $1.17 per share, for the three months ended Jan. 31. A year earlier the Atlanta company earned $1.38 billion, or $1.05 per share.

The per-share earnings were 7 cents better than Wall Street had expected, according to analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue rose to $20.98 billion from $19.16 billion, also topping the $20.35 billion that analysts projected.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key indicator of a retailer's health, climbed 7.1 percent. At U.S. locations, they increased 8.9 percent.

For the year, The Home Depot Inc. reported a profit of $5.46 per share on revenue of $88.52 billion. Fiscal 2015 results included a pretax expense of 6 cents per share related to the company's 2014 data breach.

Home Depot said Tuesday that it is raising its quarterly dividend by a dime, to 69 cents per share. The dividend will be paid on March 24 to shareholders of record on March 10.

Home Depot anticipates fiscal 2016 earnings between $6.12 and $6.18 per share. Sales are predicted to climb about 5.1 percent to 6 percent, with same-store sales growth of approximately 3.7 percent to 4.5 percent.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect full-year earnings of $6.15 per share.