Analyst: Home Depot to Slow Store Growth in 2008

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Atlanta Home Depot Inc., pressured by continued weakness in the U.S. housing market, is expected to ramp down new-store openings this year and boost spending to maintain existing outlets, according to a Reuters report.

Colin McGranahan, an analyst from Sanford Bernstein, said he met with Home Depot executives, including Chairman Frank Blake and CFO Carol Tome, earlier this week, the report said. Though Home Depot has not yet disclosed 2008 forecasts, "the company did comment that store openings will be 'a lot' fewer as lower volumes and more conservative capital allocation are eliminating marginal stores," McGranahan said.

McGranahan projected that Home Depot, which has generally scaled back store openings in recent years, would open 76 new stores in 2008, but he added he would not be surprised to see openings in the 40- to 60-store range, "with some closings as well."

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