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Home Depot, an ongoing discussion....
#21
(02-28-2019, 02:01 PM)Roadmap2Retire Wrote: LOW ended up buying a chain here in Canada called Rona a few years ago and have been converting all the stores to LOW brand (and closing some other ones). There are still a few leftover called Rona, but I believe they are being converted to LOW brandname.

I hear you that the disposable income is probably higher in US, but an economically rising demographic such as Asia probably provides a good opportunity for companies like HD/LOW to enter the markets. I just did a quick search and looks like HD has tried some expansions in intl markets, but continue to focus on US market instead....perhaps a lack of traction in business internationally.

I think it comes down to the high cost of establishing new distribution, and the near-term cost on profits.  I would have thought Canada would be fairly easy, but I think Lowe's missed there again, as recently as yesterday.  Your point remains valid though.  The US market is saturated.  These companies find a way to meaningfully grow revs some year soon, or they cease to be a great investment.
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#22
Designed and sold a $5300 custom door at HD today. Installation and tax not included. Now some poor guy can keep his Harley in the basement instead of the garage. At HD, I like to think I'm solving the world's real problems one at a time. Smile
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#23
I am an HD investor and yes they have knowledgeable help, less than in the past IMO. And self checkout, uggh

Menard's actually pays quite well too and has profit sharing.

Lowe's blows and I WILL NEVER shop there again. I wanted an exterior door installed that I would purchase from them $200 +/- door. They charged me a $30 fee for a guy to come measure to make sure it will work. This guy says the height isn't the required 81.5" and we will need a custom door for $850! I come home and measure, the rough opening is more than sufficient for the door. Spoke to everyone up to the store manager, sorry we stand behind our contractors! Non refundable measuring fee and we think our guy is right. Now, had I known nothing about doors I would have paid an extra 650 and then the guy would have had to fur down to make my undersized door fit!

I bought the door, my carpenter nephew installed it for $125. Horrible experience with Lowe's.

You should read the Ken Langone book about HD founding. Good read
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#24
(03-03-2019, 09:43 AM)NilesMike Wrote: I am an HD investor and yes they have knowledgeable help, less than in the past IMO. And self checkout, uggh

Menard's actually pays quite well too and has profit sharing.

Lowe's blows and I WILL NEVER shop there again. I wanted an exterior door installed that I would purchase from them $200 +/- door. They charged me a $30 fee for a guy to come measure to make sure it will work. This guy says the height isn't the required 81.5" and we will need a custom door for $850! I come home and measure, the rough opening is more than sufficient for the door. Spoke to everyone up to the store manager, sorry we stand behind our contractors! Non refundable measuring fee and we think our guy is right. Now, had I known nothing about doors I would have paid an extra 650 and then the guy would have had to fur down to make my undersized door fit!

I bought the door, my carpenter nephew installed it for $125. Horrible experience with Lowe's.

You should read the Ken Langone book about HD founding. Good read

Yes I should read that book.  I only know a few facts from the very early days.  I know the founder pushed his vendors to provide him with empty product boxes.  He kept them on the top shelf so it wouldn't look like he couldn't afford to properly stock his store.  That isn't a rumor, to my surprise it is specifically mentioned in an HD orientation training vid.  Smile 

The non-fitting custom doors, windows and kitchen remodel thing is a big deal for everyone as this stuff is VERY cashy.  Anyway, Mike, here is how it works at my HD.  I try to convince you to drop $30 on a professional measure from our installer that I know is good, but I warn you he is expensive on the install.  If you don't like his install bid, then feel free to tell him to go pound sand, but I now have a measurement I can trust and I can sell you a door in confidence.  Our door will fit, and I would be sick about it if it didn't because that is a lot of money.  That said, you will review the order with me line by line before you pay, and if you wanted an oak door but read my mistake, and then signed off on an ebony door, then you are going to be said because we have your money.  In the absence of a pro measure, I'm not going to sell you a $4000 door if I have any hint you don't know what the hell you really need.  It's just better that way.  Knock yourself out if you want to guess and buy a $200 door.  We'll take it back and throw it in the discount rack if you don't trash it trying to install it.  We'll probably take it back every if you mess it up.  

As far as competency, it no doubt varies from store to store. We are fine until 5-6 PM when most of us go home.  Right or wrong we are staffed too thin at night and customers aren't pleased.  Pressure to make numbers every quarter causes that, and HD hit's their numbers.  We now have "assisted checkout" instead of self checkout. They actually painted over the old "self" checkout signs because they knew it was ticking people off. Smile There is still somebody there to check you out in this lane if you desire. There are almost always more than enough regular cashiers as well, and wait time is rarely over a minute or two. That is Lowe's biggest fail. It's like Wal-Mart, even during peak hours sometimes.   That's a bad idea and customers tell me so.          

I finally read the quarterly today.  My only concern is debt.  They repurchased about $7B in shares in 2017, $9B in 2018 and planning on another $15B in 2019, and the Div just got raised big time.  They could have cut their debt in half, hiked the dividend considerably, and still bought a considerable number of shares.  That's not a great decision IMO.  They are apparently betting the recession is not coming soon.  I am going to guess they repurchased billions in shares north of $200 in 2018.  If so, I disagree with that plan when you have debt as high as HD, and the PE was obviously higher than average.
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#25
Here is another anecdotal update for what it is worth. I have now spent a few more months in one of the high dollar specialty departments. This is all of course very local info. A corporate HQ insider I am not.

My job is a stressful adventure like I haven't seen since I was deployed to the big desert. We are missing sales goals for six months now, by a wide margin. Store wide a bit better but still well short of goals. It's a well managed store that has a good REP for meeting or exceeding goals, but not now. I am in Millwork dept alone and that is not working, not at all. They have hired 30 temp employees this month for garden because that is HD's Christmas. No luck finding a competent assistant for me. The labor market remains tough here. Now we just need some very good weather. The store traffic is still weak with better weather. The HD response is to cut hours and under staff departments. Trust me that ticks the customers off. I hear about it hourly.

I am extremely curious what this quarter sales and earnings look like nation wide. Hopefully the rest of the country is doing MUCH better than the upper Midwest. I am absolutely amazed the stock is launching now. Do the analysts have no visibility of current sales trends? My official opinion is there is no way HD should be rising so fast right now. I think the summer will be a better story as it historically is.

We shall see soon enough. Quarter ends in a few weeks.
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#26
(04-13-2019, 08:48 PM)fenders53 Wrote:   .......The HD response is to cut hours and under staff departments.  Trust me that ticks the customers off. I hear about it hourly.....  

Funny, I haven't been happy with HD for a couple of decades, maybe more and Lowe's, forgetaboutit, I was never impressed. I remember the first time HD showed up in my neck of the woods in the 1980's, my step-father and I were in awe! Almost every department had an experienced retiree working a department they knew something about, had a electrical question--no problem! Had a plumbing question--no problem!! Wanted a specific screw, nut, bracket, some kind of attachment someone would find it for you. Wanted to check about something like building a ramp, walk to the contracting department and they'd bring out a book or some information and look at it with you. Now, all I want to do is find the right aisle and if an employee sees me coming they turn around and bolt...lol. Or, they don't know....or I ask a question and I get a blank stare. But such is life--sometimes I think we're getting dumber as a society.

I dread going to my local HD (any of them now) or Lowe's. I have more luck at my local Ace Hardware, maybe because it's a lot smaller and just easier to find something. How I miss the local family owned hardware stores but what a lot of people talk about what Amazon did to retail, Home Depot did the same thing long ago to mom-and-pop hardware stores as Walmart did it to, well, a lot of different kinds of family owned businesses.

Every time I think about buying HD stock I think about that employee walking quickly in the opposite direction--it keeps me from pulling the trigger--it gets me a little emotional and I can't invest when I'm emotional lol.
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#27
I can state with confidence the associates at my store have well above average product knowledge, and 95% of them are great at customer service. The bad news is the flooring sales woman is clueless about plumbing. When she is approached, she has to grab the First Phone and try in vain to get the customer help. But plumbing is not manned for the next 6 hours, so she calls me because she knows millwork is right next to plumbing, and she knows I won't tell her no I am too busy and leave her dealing with an angry customer. I end up working 3-5 departments during my shift. That would be OK if I was caught up and closing my high end door and window sales, and restocking my shelves with heavy stuff withe my non-existent spare time. If I make a small mistake it's big money. It's very stressful if you actually care, which I do. No custom door order mistakes so far, but the day is coming and I dread it. P.S. I don't dealing with wealthy entitled people. Glad I didn't make retail my actual career. I'd be in prison by now lol. Most of my customers are very nice, because I am nice to them.

I still love my store manager. With HD for 18 years and the man works like a mule at least a a few hours a day. Walks into your department when it looks like a tornado struck with pallets of heavy doors cluttering my aisles. Starts putting real heavy stuff where it belongs for me. Gives you a fist bump as he leaves and tells you everything is going to be fine. Just keep our customers happy. My favorite Assistant Store Manager got fired last month for weak sales in the specialty departments. I guess district level and higher had to throw a few virgins into the volcano as a sacrifice. Publically traded retail is absolutely ruthless. If HD fires my store manager for poor sales I swear I will quit, sell my HD shares and then go short HD. Smile
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#28
I thought some of you might find this interesting...

I was talking to my fellow associate that works the electrical department the other day. We were talking HD stock. He has been there since before they went public, so a very long time. Put a lot of his early pay in company shares. He has a few hundred shares now. Something important came up long ago and he sold off the 109,000 shares he once had for a couple bucks a share split adjusted. I just wanted to puke when he told me that. He sure wouldn't need to be selling ceiling fans and circuit breakers had he kept half those shares. He is a good guy and it made me really sad to hear him share that story.
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#29
(05-15-2019, 07:36 PM)fenders53 Wrote: I thought some of you might find this interesting...

I was talking to my fellow associate that works the electrical department the other day. We were talking HD stock. He has been there since before they went public, so a very long time. Put a lot of his early pay in company shares. He has a few hundred shares now. Something important came up long ago and he sold off the 109,000 shares he once had for a couple bucks a share split adjusted. I just wanted to puke when he told me that. He sure wouldn't need to be selling ceiling fans and circuit breakers had he kept half those shares.  He is a good guy and it made me really sad to hear him share that story.

millions and millions of dollars


So far, my only regrets have been on the sell side...and this is why I don't do it--I don't sell. Of course that doesn't mean I'm out there gambling in the stock market. I figure so far my sells have cost me at least 400 to 500k so far if I didn't sell.

I'm talking about individual stocks not mutual funds...eventually all my mutual funds will be gone.
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#30
(05-15-2019, 07:50 PM)rayray Wrote:
(05-15-2019, 07:36 PM)fenders53 Wrote: I thought some of you might find this interesting...

I was talking to my fellow associate that works the electrical department the other day. We were talking HD stock. He has been there since before they went public, so a very long time. Put a lot of his early pay in company shares. He has a few hundred shares now. Something important came up long ago and he sold off the 109,000 shares he once had for a couple bucks a share split adjusted. I just wanted to puke when he told me that. He sure wouldn't need to be selling ceiling fans and circuit breakers had he kept half those shares.  He is a good guy and it made me really sad to hear him share that story.

millions and millions of dollars


So far, my only regrets have been on the sell side...and this is why I don't do it--I don't sell. Of course that doesn't mean I'm out there gambling in the stock market. I figure so far my sells have cost me at least 400 to 500k so far if I didn't sell.

I'm talking about individual stocks not mutual funds...eventually all my mutual funds will be gone.

He said he'd be worth a million now.  I did the quick math in my head and let it go as there was no need to add salt to the wound.  He could wast a million now and still have over a million left.  

I would be lying if I didn't admit I think you are right.  Due to lack of interest, we liquidated our investment club port 20 years ago which was full of boring DGI stocks before it even had a name.  That was a very bad sell.  75% of those stocks are up at least 300% since then.  None of them went bankrupt and paid dividends all this time.  Only one (Newell) is devasted, but still in business and paying a big accidental dividend.  Probably be even on that train wreck.   I don't even want to calculate it all out now.

All that said, please humor me and invest five minutes looking up 20 year charts for INTC, MSFT, and CSCO.  They are still rock star companies but valuation at time of purchase always matters.  I learned that the VERY hard way.  Your buy and hold all bad ideas until eternity fails miserably here.  Thankfully after a few years I gave up and invested what was left from INTC and CSCO into JNJ and XEL long ago.  That worked out.  I'd stil be down if I hadn't dumped them and that is not accetable after all this time.  I kept my MSFT and PFE shares for 15+ years though. Sold the MSFT shares a few years ago (way too early) and still hold the PFE shares to this day which was a real bad move. Hindsight is 20/20.  

BTW this account turned into my retirement fishing boat fund 5 years ago.  As it turned out I need about $26K next year or two.  I had it all in aggressive ETFs and it ran very hard since DEC.  Lost my nerve and cashed it out two weeks ago because I thought the trade deal would be a bust and right so far.  This account sitting in 100% cash now.  So $23,500 that needs to be $26K soon.  I think I'll be very careful here lol.
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