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Home Depot profit beats estimates as U.S. job market improves

(Reuters) – Home Depot Inc, the world’s No.1 home improvement chain, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as an improving job market encouraged Americans to spend more on renovations.

The company reaffirmed its 2014 sales growth forecast of about 4.8 percent and profit forecast of $4.54 per share.

That includes about $34 million of net costs related to a data breach between April and September.

The company said it may face other breach-related costs, including legal action, that could have a material impact on results for the fourth quarter and future periods.

The retailer is facing at least 44 civil lawsuits related to the breach in the United States and Canada.

The company’s shares were down 0.4 percent at $97.66 premarket.

Home Depot said on Sept. 18 that hackers stole details on about 56 million payment cards in the attack.

The retailer said earlier this month that about 53 million email addresses were also stolen in the attack.

U.S. homebuilder sentiment hit new records in the August to October period as a firming job market unleashed pent-up demand, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Home Depot’s net income rose to $1.54 billion, or $1.15 per share, in the third quarter ended Nov. 2, from $1.35 billion, or 95 cents per share, a year earlier.

Same-store sales rose 5.2 percent, beating the average analyst estimate of 5 percent, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.

Same-store sales increased 5.8 percent in the United States, where Home Depot has more than 85 percent of its stores.

Net sales rose 5.4 percent to $20.52 billion.

Analysts on an average had expected earnings of $1.13 per share on revenue of $20.47 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Up to Monday’s close, the company’s shares had risen 6.5 percent since it revealed the data breach.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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