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Home Depot reports $68 billion in 2010 sales

The Home Depot achieved its first year-over-year sales improvement since 2006, thanks partly to an "improving economy," according to CEO Frank Blake.

The Atlanta-based company posted 2010 sales of $68.0 billion, up 2.8% from 2009. Comparable-store sales for the company increased 2.9%. And in a difficult but improving economy, the world's largest home improvement retailer earned $3.3 billion, compared with consolidated net earnings of $2.7 billion in 2009.

"In 2010, we continued to invest in our business and made solid progress against our key initiatives," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. "We completed the rollout of our Rapid Deployment Centers, an important part of our distribution network; we saw year-over-year improvement in customer service ratings; and we continued progress on our merchandising transformation. Our actions, coupled with an improving economy, resulted in positive sales growth for the year, the first time since 2006.”

In the fourth quarter, The Home Depot sales increased 3.8% to $15.1 billion, as comparable-store sales were positive 3.9%. Comp-store sales for stores in the United States were up 4.8%.

Net earnings from continuing operations for the fourth quarter were $587 million, compared with net earnings from continuing operations of $301 million in the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead, the company expects sales to increase about 2.5% in 2011. It also expects to add 10 new stores and invest $1.35 billion on capital spending.

At the end of the fourth quarter, Home Depot operated a total of 2,248 retail stores -- 1,976 stores in the United States, 179 in Canada, 85 in Mexico and eight stores in China.  Last year, the company operated 2,244 stores at the end of the fourth quarter.