With the U.S. economy chugging along relatively well and consumer spending showing no sign of weakness, Home Depot (NYSE:HD), the nation’s largest home improvement retailer faces no visible threat. Its shares, which for years had been buoyed by rising housing prices in the U.S., have gained another 38% this year, outperforming the benchmark S&P 500 Index which is currently up approximately 24% since the start of 2019. Home Depot’s shares closed Friday’s session at $237.29.
HD Weekly TTM
Falling mortgage rates and an improving housing market were the catalysts that prompted investors to buy the retailer’s shares. Those same triggers are now giving Americans confidence to continue spending on their homes.
Contracts to purchase previously owned homes in September posted the largest annual increase in four years, the National Association of Realtors reported last month. And the homeownership rate in the third quarter rose for the first time this year, as renters flooded back into the home-buying market.
This positive macro environment should be enough to allay some concerns that HD’s sales growth has peaked following a couple of weak quarters, hurt by lumber deflation and the U.S. trade war with China that increased costs for retailers.
The company reported same-store sales—a key measure of a retailer’s performance—rose 3% in the second quarter, trailing the average 3.2% projection. HD now sees 4% growth for the full year in that metric, down from a previous forecast for 5%.
The company has experienced one of the strongest periods of expansion in its history, delivering year-over-year comparable sales growth for 32 straight quarters. Quarterly sales growth has been more than 4% for the bulk of that time, indicating that this big box retailer is pursuing an extremely successful growth strategy.
Home Depot is also one of the retailers best-positioned to survive an ongoing onslaught by e-commerce disruptors, such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). The reason: management figured out early on how to thrive in this challenging environment. With 90% of Americans already living within 10 miles of a Home Depot outlet, rather than opening new locations, the company instead focused on upgrading its existing store base with better technology and e-commerce fulfilment capabilities.
We see that performance as quite remarkable. Indeed, it affords a good reason to buy Home Depot stock, especially when the company pays a juicy $1.36 a share quarterly dividend, for a yield of 2.30%, following a 32% hike this year. To support its stock price, the company also has a robust $15-billion stock buyback program.
An improving housing market and Home Depot’s strong growth momentum should continue to support the retailer’s share price this year. With a forward price-to-earning multiple of 21, we don’t think this stock is expensive—even after its recent rebound.
As well, this retailer is a reliable dividend payer. Its quarterly dividend has grown 380% over the past decade and, with a healthy payout ratio of 42%, there’s plenty of runway for it to continue growing.