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Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - 7:54am

Home Depot Sees 4Q Profit Boost

Improving conditions in the housing market and cost-cutting boosted Home Depot to a fourth-quarter profit.

The world’s largest home improvement retailer says sales of paint and flooring and plumbing items led to earnings of more than $340 million. The result was better than analysts’ expectations by at least 3 cents-a-share. It was only a year ago Home Depot lost $50 million.

The report of a profit spike for the Atlanta-based company follows that of rival Lowe’s on Monday. Both retailers are seeing the effects of brighter housing conditions -- if only slightly -- as consumers slowly begin to take-on improvement projects.

Home Depot says it will boost its quarterly dividend for the first time in four years. And its profit forecast for this year is above what analysts predict.