Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW), the second largest home improvement retailer worldwide reported better-than-expected profit for the fourth quarter of 2012. According to the company its net earnings during the quarter was $288 million or $0.26 per share. Its revenue was $11 billion, a 5 percent decline from its $11.6 billion sales during the same period a year earlier.

Lowe's

The financial results of Lowe’s Companies during the three months period exceeded the estimates of Wall Street analysts at $0.23 earnings per share and $10.44 billion revenue, based on data compiled by Thomson Reuters.

For the full year 2012, the home improvement retailer said its net earnings were $2 billion, an increase of 6.5%. Its earnings per diluted share was $1.69 per diluted share, up by 18.2 percent.

According to the company, its comparable store sales during the fourth quarter increased by 1.9 percent on a consolidated basis, while its same store sales for the whole year 2012 rose by 1.4 percent. The results of the company’s comparable store sales were based on a 13-week and 52-week period, respectively.

In a statement, Robert Niblock, chairman, president, and CEO of Lowe’s Companies said, “We delivered solid results in the fourth quarter. Our results are a testament to the team’s success in driving more balanced performance across the quarter, our response to the demand created by recovery efforts in the wake of superstorm Sandy, and the momentum we’re creating with our initiatives.”

During the period, the home improvement retailer repurchased 21.3 million shares with a total amount of $750 million. The company also paid $180 million dividends as part of its commitment to return capital to shareholders.

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW) already repurchased 146 million worth $4.35 billion, and paid a total of $704 million in dividends for the entire fiscal 2012.

According to the company, its board of directors approved the buyback of $5 billion shares, and terminated its previous authorizations. The company said its current $5 billion repurchase authorization has no expiration date, but aims to complete the shares buyback within two years. Lowe’s Companies also said that its existing repurchase program is subject to market conditions, and may be suspended, discontinued or resumed at any time.

Lowe’s Companies expects a 4 percent increase in its total revenue and its comparable store sale to climb by 3.5 percent for the year 2013. The home improvement retailer expects 60 percent increase in earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales. The company expects to deliver $2.05 earning per diluted share for FY13.  Lowe’s expects its income tax rate at around 38.1 percent this year.

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW) has 1,754 stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico as of February 1, 2013.