Home Depot reported strong first-quarter profits, though sales at comparable stores were weaker than most had expected, as was revenue.

Shares fell more than 2 percent before the opening bell Tuesday.

The Atlanta company earned $2.4 billion, or $2.08 per share, for the three months ended April 29. A year earlier the home improvement retailer earned $2.01 billion, or $1.67 per share.

The results were 2 cents better than Wall Street expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue climbed to $24.95 billion from $23.89 billion, just short of analyst projections for $25.2 billion in revenue.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of a retailer’s health, rose 4.2 percent. Analysts polled by FactSet were looking for a 5.5 percent increase.

In the U.S., the figure climbed 3.9 percent.

Chairman and CEO Craig Menear said in a written statement that the chain had a slow start to the spring selling season, but that it’s been building momentum during May.

“These trends, as well as a favorable housing and macroeconomic backdrop, give us confidence to reaffirm our sales and earnings guidance for fiscal 2018,” Menear said.

The Commerce Department will report on newly started residential construction Wednesday and there are signs that buyers have not been deterred by soaring home prices and rising mortgage rates.

Builders have become a little more tentative.

In April, homebuilder confidence slid for the fourth consecutive month as the cost of home ownership slides out of reach for more Americans.

Home Depot can still benefit even if home sales flatten. A large number of Americans are choosing to stay put and plow money into the homes they already own.

The Home Depot Inc. still anticipates fiscal 2018 earnings to grow about 28 percent from fiscal 2017’s $9.31 per share and sales to rise approximately 6.7 percent.


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