NASCAR sponsor Home Depot profits down

The Home Depot Inc. said Tuesday its fourth-quarter profit fell more than 27 percent and a dour housing market contributed to the first annual sales decline for the world's largest home improvement store chain.

And the company expects more headwinds in 2008.

The results for the latest quarter fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Home Depot also said it plans to open only 55 new stores this year. That's about half as many as it opened last year. Home Depot has been scaling back the number of new store openings in recent years.

The Atlanta-based company said it earned $671 million, or 40 cents a share, in the three months ending Feb. 3, compared with a profit of $925 million, or 46 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Earnings per share from continuing operations in the quarter were 40 cents, compared with 42 cents a year earlier.

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