Hobbled by the housing slump and a loss of market share, Home Depot posted its first ever annual sales decline Tuesday and released a 2008...

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ATLANTA — Hobbled by the housing slump and a loss of market share, Home Depot posted its first ever annual sales decline Tuesday and released a 2008 outlook that is more gloomy than that of its chief rival, Lowe’s.

Home Depot, reporting fourth-quarter profit had declined more than 27 percent, has suffered as consumers pulled back on renovations in the face of declining home values.

Home Depot’s main competitor, Lowe’s, has been hurt by market conditions, too, reporting Monday that its fourth-quarter profit dropped by a third.

But, unlike Home Depot, Lowe’s predicted its sales — while still hurt by a soft housing market — would increase 3 percent in 2008. Home Depot projected a 2008 sales decline of 4 percent to 5 percent.

Lowe’s also said it will open 120 new stores in 2008. Home Depot plans to open only 55, about half as many as it did last year.

At the end of the fourth quarter, Home Depot had 2,234 stores in the United States, Canada, Mexico and China. Lowe’s had 1,534 stores in the United States and Canada at the end of the quarter.