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Lowe's swings to 4Q loss on charges, anemic housing market

FILE- In this Feb. 23, 2018, file photo sales associate Larry Wardford, of Holliston, Mass., places items on selves at a Lowe's retail home improvement and appliance store, in Framingham, Mass. Lowe's Companies, Inc. reports financial results Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Lowe's swung to a loss in its fourth quarter, weighed down by sizeable one-time charges and a lethargic housing market.

The home improvement company lost $824 million, or $1.03 per share, for the period ended Feb. 1. That includes $1.6 billion in charges, most from a $952 million goodwill impairment charge. Stripping out the charges, earnings were 80 cents per share, a penny better than analysts polled by FactSet had expected.

A year ago the Mooresville, North Carolina, company earned $554 million, or 67 cents per share.

Revenue rose to $15.65 billion from $15.5 billion, short of Wall Street expectations.

Sales at stores open at least a year increased 1.7 percent, and 2.4 percent in the U.S. This metric is a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Lowe's results come a day after rival Home Depot Inc. reported fourth-quarter results that missed analysts' estimates. Both chains were not only contending with bad weather in certain parts of the country during the period, but also a swoon in the real estate market.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reported that the number of homes being built in December plunged to the lowest level in more than two years, potentially signaling that developers anticipate fewer home sales this year.

Would-be homebuyers are increasingly priced out of the market as years of climbing prices and slim housing inventories put ownership out of reach for many Americans.

Lowe's Cos. on Wednesday projected earnings between $6 and $6.10 for this year. Analysts had been expecting $6.04 per share. The retailer anticipates total sales rising about 2 percent for the year, with same-store sales up about 3 percent.