The Home Depot, the nation's largest home-improvement-store chain, reported a nearly 17 percent jump in third-quarter earnings.

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The Home Depot, the nation’s largest home-improvement-store chain, reported a nearly 17 percent jump in third-quarter earnings on strong sales, beating Wall Street expectations.

Home Depot said it was lifting its earnings per share growth guidance for 2005 from 14 to 17 percent to 17 to 18 percent. It also increased its sales-growth guidance for the year from 9 to 12 percent to 10 to 12 percent.

In the third quarter, Home Depot said it benefited from rolling out new products and growth in its home-installation business.

For the three months ending Oct. 30, Home Depot said Tuesday it earned $1.54 billion, or 72 cents a share, compared with a profit of $1.32 billion, or 60 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 68 cents a share in the third quarter.

Revenue in the three-month period rose 10.5 percent to $20.74 billion, compared with $18.77 billion recorded a year ago.

Same-store sales — a measure that compares sales at stores open at least a year — rose 3.6 percent in the quarter.

Home Depot shares fell 17 cents to close at $42.40 Tuesday.

J.C. Penney

Private brands give sales a boost

J.C. Penney, the third-largest U.S. department-store company, said quarterly earnings soared 57 percent on sales of private-label apparel. The company raised its annual profit forecast for the fourth time.

Third-quarter net income increased to $234 million, or 94 cents a share, from $149 million, or 50 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose 2 percent to $4.5 billion, the company said Tuesday in a statement.

Apparel sales were bolstered by exclusive brands including nicole and nick(it), the company said. Shoes, women’s accessories, fine jewelry and home furnishings were among the strongest-selling merchandise, executives said on a call with analysts and investors.

“They have merchandise people want to buy,” said Dave Keuler of Mason Street Advisors, with J.C. Penney shares among its more than $70 billion in assets. “Their brands clearly resonate with customers.”

Profit in the quarter surpassed the 93-cent estimate from A.G. Edwards & Sons analyst Robert Buchanan, the top-rated analyst by StarMine Professional. The average of 12 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial was 92 cents. Thomson declined to disclose the parameters for the estimates in its survey.

Shares of J.C. Penney fell $1.54 to $52.21. They have climbed 30 percent this year before Tuesday, compared with a 19 percent rise for Federated Department Stores, owner of Macy’s.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News