Lowe's Cos. on Wednesday reported a sharp drop in net profit for the fiscal fourth quarter, as earnings were hit by a big impairment charge. Profit fell to $11 million, or 1 cent a share, from $450 million or 46 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The retailer said the result includes a non-cash impairment charge of $530 million related to its exit of a joint venture in Australia. Excluding this impact, adjusted earnings per share rose to 59 cents, up 28% from 46 cents in the fourth quarter last year. Sales rose to $13.2 billion, up from $12.5 billion a year ago. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected adjusted earnings of 59 cents a share on sales of $13.1 billion. Shares were down 2.1% in premarket trade.
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