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Lowe's 'confident' DIY demand will rebound: CEO

Appetite for home improvement projects will likely be sluggish this year, but there are good reasons to expect the slump will be temporary, according to the home improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW).

"When you hear these factors with trends like chronic undersupply of homes, millennial household formation, baby boomers aging in place, and a sustained number of people working from home — you can see why we are confident that home improvement demand will trend upwards over time across both homeowners and Pros,” Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison said on the company's fiscal fourth quarter earnings call Tuesday.

Lowe’s reported comparable sales were down 6.2% in the quarter that ended Feb. 2, driven by continued pressure from do-it-yourself customers holding off spending on bigger ticket items. Lowe’s forecast comparable sales to be down by 2% to 3% for the full year 2024.

Sales of previously occupied homes remain at a historic low, mortgage rates continue to hover around 7%, and home prices haven't cooled, discouraging many from moving or selling.

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Ellison said that due to such factors, the company expects DIY demand to be under pressure in the near term.

Read more: Home equity loan vs. personal loan: Which is best for home improvement?

The other part of this equation is the timeline of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cuts, which could boost the housing market and, in turn, big-ticket purchases at Lowe's.

“While there is increased confidence of a soft landing, there's still a lot of speculation on the timing of anticipated interest rate cuts in the face of slowing inflation,” Ellison said. “It's also unclear how quickly the consumer will react to these changes and how quickly their spending habits will change.”

Some Wall Street analysts aren’t holding their breath that the demand for home improvement will bounce back this year amid higher mortgage rates and a pullback in new construction projects.

“Not 2024, maybe the second half of 2024,” D.A. Davidson managing director Michael Baker told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “But we don't want to sort of get too far ahead of ourselves yet. We think same-store sales will continue down certainly for the first half of the year and probably even further in the second half of the year."

People shop at Lowe's in the South San Francisco bay area. (Getty Images)
People shop at Lowe's in the South San Francisco bay area. (Getty Images) (Sundry Photography via Getty Images)

“Still, a little bit to go on the housing recovery here. Getting better, but we're not looking for a positive until maybe early 2025,” the analyst added.

Last week, Lowe's competitor Home Depot (HD) said it had a "neutral" outlook for the housing market in 2024.

"We don't think there's incremental pressure nor do we think that we're quite ready for a hockey stick recovery," CEO Edward Decker said on the company's earnings call.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @daniromerotv.

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