(Updated 4:40 p.m.)
Shares of Atlanta-based Home Depot and its North Carlina-based biggest competitor, Lowe’s, were on the move Wednesday as investors anticipated both home improvement retail giants would reap big sales from supplying the many homes and businesses heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast.
Both companies were up more than 2 percent in trading on the New York Stock Exchange, which itself got back to business after two days of being idled by the ferocious storm.
“We’re pulling product from Atlanta, Florida, Texas, all across the U.S.” Aaron Flowe, president of Home Depot’s Northern Division, told WSB Radio. “We’ve got 1,500 trucks heading into the region.”
Flowe said the first 750 trucks were carrying generators, tarps, flashlights, batteries, plywood and similar supplies. Additional shipments will include chain saws, heaters and cleaning supplies, such as wet-dry vacs, trash bags and bleach.
Home Depot has about 400 stores and Lowe’s 200 stores in the areas affected by the storms. Lowe’s also had hundreds of truckloads deployed to replenish stores in hard-hit areas.
Lowe’s Store Operations Senior V.P. Terry Johnson told Fox Business the retailer has been able to get supplies quickly to its stores because of distribution centers in the affected areas. He also said consumers don’t have to worry about price hikes in the wake of an event like a hurricane. Johnson said prices are “locked down” for many weeks after such an event.
While investors were banking on a windfall for the retailers, Morningstar analyst Peter Wahlstrom told The Wall Street Jounal the biggest benefit will be the opportunity to build relationships with existing and potential customers. Wahlstrom said sales from the region only account for about 10 percent of the retailers’ business.
“Both Home Depot and Lowe’s have gotten pretty good at presenting a corporate image in the face of a natural disaster,” Wahlstrom said.
Home Depot’s shares closed up $1.34, or 2 percent, at $61.38 on Wednesday. The stock had traded as high as $63 before settling back. Lowe’s closed up $1.02, or 3 percent, at $32.38 after trading as high as $32.84 earlier.
Generator maker Generac Holdings, pump suppliers Pentair and Xylem, small engine maker Briggs & Stratton and retailers Wal-Mart and Target also may benefit from bigger sales in the region as it tries to recover, according to analysts.