The Home Depot's (HD) CEO Craig Menear Hosts 2017 Annual Shareholder Meeting Conference Call (Transcript)

| About: Home Depot, (HD)

The Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD) 2017 Annual Shareholder Meeting May 18, 2017 9:00 AM ET


Craig Menear - CEO and President

Teresa Roseborough - EVP, General Counsel

Carol Tomé - CFO, EVP of Corporate Services

Unidentified Company Representative

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chairman, CEO and President, Craig Menear.

Craig Menear

Thank you and good morning everyone. Welcome to the 2017 Annual Shareholders Meeting. I thank you all for taking the time to join us here today. What I would like to begin with is really introducing our Board of Directors. And I hope that you had a chance to mingle a little with folks earlier this morning.

But I'd start with Gerard Arpey, Ari Bousbib, Jeff Boyd, Frank Brown, Al Carey, Armando Codina, Helena Foulkes, Linda Gooden, Wayne Hewett, Mark Vadon and our Lead Director, Greg Brenneman. We also have Karen Katen on the line, one of our Directors, attending the meeting via phone. She is unable to be with us today in person due to health reasons, and we're certainly glad that she can join us on the phone today.

Next I would like to introduce our senior leadership team who is with me on the stage here; Carol Tomé, our Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Services and Teresa Wynn Roseborough, our Executive Vice President and General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Also, before we start I'd like to take a second and say that's it's an honor to have one of our founders, Arthur Blank here today. Arthur, we thank you for building an amazing Company; we are privileged, absolutely privileged to continue to grow in this business; to be able to live the values that you instilled for the benefit of our associates, our customers and our shareholders; so thank you very much for being here, appreciate it.

We also have other members of our senior leadership team that are here with us today in present. I'd actually ask them to stand, if we could. I’d like to recognize their efforts. And I would like to recognize, Hector Mojena and Milford McGuirt of KPMG, the Company’s independent auditors.

So we will begin today’s meeting with the formal business portion. This consists of the election of directors named in the proxy statement, ratification of auditors and consideration of the Company's and shareholder proposals. After that Carol and I will provide a brief business overview and then we’ll actually open the floor for questions. So now I officially call the 2017 Home Depot Annual Meeting of Shareholders to order. Teresa is serving as a Secretary of the Meeting and Broadridge Investor Communications Solutions is our inspector of elections.

As of March 20, 2017, which is the record date for the meeting, there were approximately 1.2 billion shares of the Company’s common stock entitled to vote. A majority of these shares is needed for a quorum, over 87% of these shares are represented here today and therefore we do have a quorum.

Now, if you haven’t voted yet and would like to vote today, please raise your hands so that we can give you a ballot. And then we will collect your ballots after the proposals have been presented. And if you’ve already voted, there is no need to vote again today. So I now declare that the polls are open for voting.

The first item of business is the election of directors, which is Item 1 on your ballot. The Board has nominated the individuals named in the proxy statement to serve for a one-year term through the 2018 Annual Meeting. Your Board recommends that you vote for each of these directors.

Now, we’ll move to the next proposal. The next item is the ratification of the appointment of KPMG as the independent auditors of the Company for fiscal 2017, Item 2 on your ballot. Your Board recommends that you vote for this proposal. I’ll move to the next proposal. The next item is the advisory vote on executive compensation, also known as say-on-pay, which is Item number three on your ballot. Specifically you are being asked to approve the compensation of the Company’s named executive officers as disclosed in the proxy statement for this meeting. The Board recommends that you vote for this proposal.

The next item for consideration is the advisory vote on the frequency of future say-on-pay votes, which is item number four on your ballot. In addition to providing you with the opportunity to cast an advisory vote on the executive compensation, we're also offering you the opportunity to cast an advisory vote on the frequency that the say-on-pay vote takes place. The Board recommends that you vote to hold future say-on-pay votes every year.

Now, we’ll move on to the next proposal. The next item for consideration is the shareholder proposal regarding the preparation of an employment diversely report, which is item number five on your ballot. And will [Ebony Munk] as a representative of the Benedictine Sisters and The Convent Academy of The Incarnate Word, please step to the microphone and present the proposal.

Unidentified Company Representative

Good morning, Mr. Chair, members of the Board and shareholders who are gathered here today. I am [Ebony Munk] and I’ve been asked to representing this proposal by the Benedictine Sisters from Boerne, Texas. I also represent several members on the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility who are shareholders and co-filers of this proposal. These groups are long-term shareholders of Home Depot. The proposal on ballot number five seeks Board review of our Company policies regarding disclosure of equal employment opportunity data, and public reporting of diversity issues to shareholders. We received 29.99% for last year's proposal.

Equal employment opportunity is an investment concern. When allegations of discrimination and the workplace burden shareholders with costly litigation and added risk to Company’s brand, there is an impact to shareholder value. We contend descriptions do not go far enough to mitigate potential risk. We mentioned in the resolution that Home Depot has paid out more than $100 million to settle discrimination law suits over the past 17 years.

Your reports do not give a chart identifying employees by gender and race in each of the EEOC defined categories. This resolution has been filed over the past several years, focuses on the importance of measurement and disclosure of diversity issues to its shareholders. To manage diversity, companies have to be able to measure it. That is why we have asked for EEOC1 data, which offers investors a measurement tool and EEO report is submitted annually by Home Depot to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, providing data to shareholders would not propose additional financial burden. But Company actually did provide information one year and then stopped.

In the absence of meaningful disclosure, investors cannot fully assess potential risk Home Depot faces nor that matter fully identify successful diversity efforts. In 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that ratio minorities comprise 37.2 of private industry workforce, but just 14.01% of executives and management. We feel this is a bottom line issue affecting the competitiveness and market share. We ask Home Depot to report diversity disclosure to all stakeholders.

We met with the Corporate Secretary and others to offer a way forward and make a concrete suggestion. We continue to hope that management will take us up on the ideas we presented. Thank you for your time. And we ask you to vote in favor of stockholder proposal number five.

Craig Menear

Thank you, Ms. Monk. Your Board recommends that you vote against this proposal. The next item for consideration is the shareholder proposal regarding advisory vote on political contributions, which is item number six on your ballot. Will Ms. [Ebony Monk] as representative NorthStar Asset Management please step to the microphone and present the proposal.

Unidentified Company Representative

Hi again, I am Ebony Monk from NorthStar Asset Management in Boston, NorthStar is a beneficial owner of over $6.7 million of Home Depot common stock, and I am here to ask for shareholder support of resolution number 6, regarding political contributions linked to our Company. At the heart of this proposal is that whatever the Company stands for should be represented in all arenas’ of the Company's public activity, including political contributions.

Shareholders want good governance and we want to know that the management team overseeing political contributions is carefully vetting the end points of all money that is associated with the Company. Unfortunately, we do not have such examination. We argue that thorough analysis is required to ensure that funds are not spent on candidates working across purposes with the Company's policies or against the interest of shareholders.

For example, fellow shareholders, did you know that our Company pack made a contribution to a political action committee that seeks to fight the bad ideas of Obama Care by electing conservative who support Healthcare freedom. As far as we can tell, this package is purely to appeal the Affordable Care Act and doesn’t appear to have any positions on business issues that we think matter to the Company. For example, its Web site makes no statements about trade policy reform, border taxes or immigrant issues that may affect small business customers.

On another issue, Home Depot has been a long time supporter of LGBT rights. But how can our employees so valued when the Company or pack support politicians, which the Human Rights’ campaign considers to faces of any quality in Congress; such as Tom Emer, Crescent Hardy, Mike Bose, and Jody Heist. We are concerned because our pack supported these politicians who we believe have worked to undermine the rights of our LGBT employees and their families. In 2010, citizens united case opened the floodgates on corporate political contributions.

Justice Stevens accounted that a democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being false and sold. When corporations are allowed to freely spin on election hearings with zero accountability to shareholders, our only recourse is to actively participate in corporate democracy. Without corporate democracy, Company treasury and packed contributions becomes just one more source of power that threatens to undermine our political system, just as Justice Stevens feared in his descent. Then Home Depot engages in behavior that is contrary to our Company’s stated principles and values then it's up to shareholders to take a stand. We ask you to vote yes for resolution number six.

Craig Menear

Thank you, Ms. [Munk]. Your Board recommends that you vote against this proposal. The next item for consideration is the shareholder proposal to reduce the threshold to call special shareholder meetings to 15% of outstanding shares, which is item number seven on your ballot. Will Ms. [Ebony Munk] as a representative of Mr. John Chevedden, please step to the microphone and present the proposal?

Unidentified Company Representative

Shareholders ask our Board to take steps necessary to amend our bylaws and each appropriate governing document to give holders in the aggregate of 15% of our outstanding common-stock the power to call a special shareholder meeting. This proposal does not impact our Board’s current power to call a special meeting. Dozens of Fortune 500 companies allow 10% of shares to call a special meeting, and this proposal is only acting that 15% of our shares be enabled to call a special meeting. Special meetings allow share owners to vote on important matters, such as electing new directors that can arise between annual meetings.

Share owner input on the timing of share owner meeting is especially important when events unfold quickly and issues become moved by the next annual meeting. This is important because there could be 15 months or more between annual meetings. This proposal topic received 42% support at The Home Depot 2016 Annual Meeting. This level of support means that more than 51% of Home Depot shareholders informed on corporate governance matters voted in favor of this topic proposal. This proposal is more important to Home Depot.

GMI analysts said that Home Depot Board included three directors who are flagged due to their prior service on boards of other companies, which filed for bankruptcy. Karen Katen, who received 11% negative votes at the Home Depot 2015 Annual Meeting was overextended and overbooked. Home Depot disclosed related party transactions that included employment of a son of former chairman and CEO. Please vote to enhance shareholder value, special share owner meetings proposal number seven.

Craig Menear

Thank you. Your Board recommends that you vote against this proposal. So now if you have received the ballot, I'd please ask that you mark your votes, and find it whereas indicated. And when you finished, if would please raise your hand and one of our volunteers will collect the ballots. I believe all the ballots have now been collected and the poll is now closed. We still have one more back there. Anyone else finishing the ballot? Okay, the ballots have been collected and the polls are now closed. And I’ll ask to Teresa to review the preliminary voting results.

Teresa Roseborough

Thank you, Craig. The preliminary voting results for the Company proposals are as follows. All of the director nominees named in the proxy statement have been elected by a majority of the votes cast; approximately 98% of the votes cast have voted in favor of the ratification of the appointment of KPMG; approximately 98% of the votes cast have voted in favor of the compensation of the Company’s named executive officers; and approximately 91% of votes cast have voted in favor of holding annual say-on-pay votes.

For the shareholder proposals, approximately 34% of the votes cast have voted in favor of the shareholder proposal regarding the preparation of an employment diversity report; approximately 6% of the votes cast have voted in favor of the shareholders proposal regarding an advisory vote on political contributions; and approximately 42% of the votes cast have voted in favor of the shareholder proposal to reduce the threshold to call special shareholder meetings.

Based on the preliminary vote count, all the nominees for the Board of Directors have been elected; the appointment of KPMG as the Company’s independent auditors for fiscal 2017 has been ratified; a majority of votes cast approved our executive compensation; and a majority of the vote cast voted in favor of holding annual say-on pay votes. None of the shareholder proposals have been approved. Please note that the ballots collected at this meeting will be verified and tabulated by our inspector of elections, and final results of the vote will be available in the Form 8-K, which we’ll file next week. Thanks Craig.

Craig Menear

Thank you, Teresa. So this concludes our formal business, and I declare the meeting adjourned. Now we’ll move forward with an overview of our business and then afterwards, we’ll take question. And so I’d like to ask Carol to start us off with a financial review of the Company.

Carol Tomé

Thank you, Craig and good morning everyone. It's so wonderful to see so many shareholders here at this morning. We're very glad that you joined us. Before I get started, I would like you to take a look at this chart, I'm not going to read it, ut please not that some of our comments may be forward looking.

2016 was a great year for our Company. We reported the highest sales and earnings in our Company history. Looking at this chart, you can see that our sales grew over $6 billion to $94.6 billion; our net earnings grew by approximately $1 billion to $8 billion; and our diluted earnings per share grew by 18.1% to $6.45.

Our Company continues to generate strong cash flow. We have a disciplined and balanced approach when allocating our cash. In fiscal 2016, we generated approximately $9.8 billion of cash from the business, and we used that cash as well as proceeds from $2.5 billion of new long term debt issuances to invest $1.6 billion back into the business, paid $3.4 billion in dividends and repurchased $7 billion of our outstanding shares. It's important to note that since 2002, we have repurchased over $65 billion of our shares at an average price of less than $52 a share. The power of our Company can be seen in our cash flow generation.

Now, let's turn and look to our outlook for fiscal 2017. We continue to believe that the U.S. home improvement market is healthy. That, coupled with the modest GDP growth in the United States, provides continued tailwind for our business. We just reported our first quarter results and we had a good quarter with sales and earnings ahead of our expectations. For fiscal 2017, we expect our sales to grow by about 4.6%, which includes positive comp sales and six new stores.

For earnings per share, we now expect our fiscal 2017 diluted earnings per share to grow approximately 11% to $7.15. As Craig will detail, our strategy has not changed. In 2017, we will continue to invest in our business to support our strategic efforts, while at the same time, remain focused on creating value for our shareholders.

Part of creating value for our shareholders is paying a dividend. In 2016, our dividend grew 17% and in February of this year, our Board announced 29% increase in our quarterly dividend, which equates to $3.56 annually; increasing our targeted dividend payout ratio from what have been 50% to now 55%.

So with that, let me turn it back to Craig.

Craig Menear

Thank you, Carol. So before I share with you the strategy that helped deliver these results through 2016, I want to begin by highlighting what these strong results have meant for our shareholders from a stock performance standpoint. From 2012 through 2016, the Home Depot stock price has appreciated 209%, outperforming both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average by a significant margin.

So of course first and foremost our business starts with our culture, a culture that comes from our founders; Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. Our culture begins with a unique management construct that is the inverted pyramid where our customers and our associates are at the top of that pyramid. Our culture comes to life as we live our core values; values that serve as the foundation for our business and the guiding principal behind the decisions that we make every single day. We believe that our culture sets us apart and is truly a competitive advantage in the market for Home Depot.

Our customers always have been and always will be at the heart of our business, which is why they’re positioned is at the top of the inverted pyramid. Excellent customer service is also the first value as you work your way around the values wheel. We monitor our commitment to customer service on an ongoing basis. Seeking direct feedback from our customer satisfaction surveys, as well as independent third parties, like J.D. Power and Associates where we received an 11 point increase in customer satisfactions scores in 2016. The customer service extends beyond our customers in the isles to taking care of the communities that we serve.

We focused on building relationships and being great neighbors in the communities that we do business in. We believe that this is an essential part of our job. In 2016, The Home Depot Foundation enhanced more than 6,000 veteran homes and facilities in a thousand cities across all 50 states with more than 1,300 non-profit partners. Last year, we announced that the foundation was going to grow its commitment to veteran related causes to $1.25 billion by 2020. And I'm proud to say that we're well on our way to achieving that goal. So as you can see giving back is one of the core values of the Company.

Our Founder Bernie often said that if you take care of your associates, they’ll take care of the customers and everything else will take care of itself. That statement holds true today. Today, we have over 400,000 associates living our values. Our associates are the key to meeting our customers’ needs and they take pride in putting our customers first. These associates are the greatest asset that we have and a competitive advantage, and we must continue to invest in those that wear the orange apron. We recognized our hourly associates through our success sharing bonuses, and we have paid out over $1 billion in bonuses over the past five years.

Additionally, we have The Homer Fund, our non-profit charity that supports our associates. Through both associate and the Company margin contributions, The Homer Fund has donated more than $150 million to associates in need during times of crises. So two summers ago, we restructured our approach to strategic planning. And the first thing that we did was we identified potential disruptors into our business, and we refer to this as our war games. The second thing we did as we held discussions on ideas around how we could expand growth and improve productivity over the next three to eight years. And it was a pretty eye-opening experience and reminded us that we have to continue to evolve with our customers as they change.

As a result of this planning, in 2015, we came away with two very simple objectives and five key strategies to achieve our goals; the first objective grow market share with pros and consumers; and second deliver shareholder value. The five key strategies to support these objectives are driven by what our customers and our shareholders expect from The Home Depot.

First, we must continue to connect our associates to the needs of our customers; empowering them to deliver industry leading customer service; enabling them to differentiate and do that through staffing models, tools and organizational support for our associates. Second, we must strive to be the leaders in product authority; connecting product and services to the needs of all of our customers; pro do your-self and do it for me. Our merchants work to connect assortments to the customers’ needs by curating local assortments for the customer, and we will continue to do so going forward.

Third, we must optimize the flow from supplier to shelf to customer location by connecting the business end-to-end. Fourth, we remain focused on the interconnected experience; connecting our stores to our online properties and our online properties to our stores, providing a frictionless customer experience across all channels. And finally, we will connect our activities to cost out by continuing to innovate our business model and value chain; to support the virtuous productivity cycle and enhance overall value to our customers.

And as the customers increasingly engage with us across both the digital and physical worlds, we remain focused on collaborating more closely, both internally and externally, to create the one Home Depot experience. This gives us the ability to drive growth, value and productivity for our customers and our shareholders.

So now let me talk about growth. Looking ahead, we see significant growth opportunities in two areas; pro and in interconnected retail. We recognize that our pro customers needs go beyond those of the traditional in-store offering and we have invested in several key initiatives, aim to improve the customer experience for our pros; we completed the roll out of our enhanced delivery offering to all continental U.S. stores; made improvements to our special order process; extended credit terms on our private label pro card. We believe that the work that we’re doing to strengthen sales support, assortments fulfillment capabilities for our pro customers continues to resonate. And we're excited about the opportunity to see the future strength of our relationship with this customer growth.

One of our key initiatives to grow the pro centers around MRO, or maintenance, repair and operations. In fiscal 2016, it marked the one-year anniversary of our acquisition of Interline Brands. And through this acquisition, we established a platform in the MRO market where we serve primarily the institutional customer, hospitality and national apartment complexes. Collectively, the Home Depot and airlines owns less than 5% today of approximately $50 billion addressable MRO market. So we believe there is lots of room for growth. We exceeded our one year integration goals. And in 2017, we will continue to focus on migrating the customer experience of the one Home Depot approach; a seamless, frictionless experience for all of our pro customers serving them when, where, and how they want to be served.

This focus of the one Home Depot experience is the foundation of our interconnected retail strategy, and extends to all of our customers, pro -- why I like. So the retail environment is evolving and the blending of the digital and the physical worlds remains a common theme. The team made great strides in 2016; we substantially completed the redesign with enhanced features around search and faster checkout; we upgraded the mobile app; we introduced the dynamic estimated time of arrival feature to provide customers a faster and more accurate delivery date based on location. We measure this as a success of these changes by the increased traffic and conversion rates that we see across our interconnected platform.

For the year, our online business grew 19% versus fiscal 2015. And while we are seeing significant growth in our online business, our stores have never been more relevant. As a testament to this, our online sales made up 5.9% of our 2016 total sales, but 45% of all of our online orders were picked up in our stores. Our digital presence is driving business to our stores and our stores is driving business to our digital site as customers want to shop across multiple channels, including buy online pick up in store, buy online ship to store, buy online return to store and now buy online deliver from store, enhanced with a delivery option that was fully rolled out in all of the continental U.S. stores in fiscal 2016. So we are very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

The Home Depot is the number home improvement retailer in both Mexico and Canada with 120 and 182 stores respectively. Our Canadian and Mexican businesses are great sources of idea for the United States, and we collaborate with the teams in several areas to drive productivity and efficiency. The power of the interconnected retail strategy continues to gain traction in our international businesses as digital sites in both of these countries have recently been updated, driving both sales growth and a positive response from our customers. So we’re excited about the opportunity and the prospects ahead, continuing the growth in both of our international markets.

So where is all this growth and initiatives going to take us? We believe that the growth opportunity and strategic framework that we’ve outlined will help up to achieve our target of $101 billion in sales by 2018 with 14.5% operating margin and 35% return on invested capital. The key to attaining the $101 billion in sales is executing our plan within the framework of our culture that our founders gave us. We truly believe that if we put our customers and our associates first, everything else will take care of itself.

And with that, I would like to thank you very much for attending the meeting today. And at this time, I’d be now happy to take whatever questions you may have. And if could please step to one of the microphone, we’ll get started.

Question-and-Answer Session

Q - Unidentified Analyst

I'm Lindy Miller. I'm a shareholder and hopefully one of the second generation shareholders as well. I was very pleased to hear about all the growth and also revenue, I think it's very exciting. But I also wonder how the geopolitical risks are playing into your strategy. I'd like to understand what kind of function you have to research and understand and then interact at the policy level. I didn’t hear anything here about risks future of Canada and Mexico, and yet we know fund politicians who are openly against NAFTA. So I'd like to understand a little bit about how you consider geopolitical risks in your strategic planning?

Craig Menear

Thank you very much for the questions. So we obviously monitor the environment. We have a small 5% team in Washington that stays connected with what's happening in the political environment. But quite candidly, we do modeling but most of what's happening right now, quite honestly, is theory; there is nothing proposed. And so we look at what potentially could happen, but it's in our mind, it's premature to spend too much of time worrying about that. And the most important thing for us is to stay focused on our customer and continue to drive for them the value and the convenience that they’re looking for from The Home Depot. But clearly, we try to stay in tune with what's happening. Our key focus, as it relates to Washington, is to focus on things that help to create jobs and drive value for our shareholders. And that's really where we put out energy. Thank you.

Unidentified Analyst

Good morning. I am Jack Edwards. I'm 30 plus year stockholder of Home Depot, it's been great. Several years ago with the turmoil announced on the BBN CEO in a disposition of most of HD supply. At that time, I thought it was immediate reaction and was not a wise business decision. With the acquisition of Interline, I believe that some of that business is duplication of what we had with HDs Supply. Is just that mission that the disposition of HD Supply, most of HD Supply was not a wise business decision?

Craig Menear

Thank you for your question. So I'll explain it. There were two pieces of the Inter or the HD Supply business that quite candidly when we sold it, we didn’t want it to get rid-off, but we had to get the deal done. One was a Company called Crown Bolt that was basically built with The Home Depot to service our fastener builder hardware supplies. And it was a very nice business and we actually were able a couple of years ago to get that business back from HD Supply.

There was a second piece of the business that was called maintenance warehouse. And maintenance warehouse was essentially focused in the space that underlying this focus, which is hospitality, institutional and multifamily. And we would have love to have been able to retain that piece of the business as well because there’s very nice business. But we couldn’t get the deal done by holding on to that. But rest of HD Supply, quite honestly, is outside of where our expertise lies. And so it was the right decision to exit that business to focus on the core.

And when we saw the opportunity with Interline to better serve, in particular, the multifamily housing environment, which has been the majority of household growth over last five years, it gave us capabilities that we didn’t have to properly serve that pro segment of the market. And so we jumped at the opportunity to get back in.

Unidentified Analyst

Good morning, Craig. My name Gary Patton, I'm a 25 year employee. I'm of store 1104, thanks to Derrick and some other people. Couple of years ago, I mentioned about closer to my house and more convenient, and I found myself transferred. So thanks for that. I'm going to talk a little bit more this time then I have before, I'm a little bit nervous, good to see Arthur here; I do have a copy of built from starch; I've got Carols and Bernie's and Frank's and Craig's signature in it; I’d love to have your signature. I didn’t think I would see you here today. But I wanted to talk a little bit; you're doing a great job; everything is continuing on; we're headed towards, I would say, $200 a share maybe by the end of the year. I'm optimistic.

From the employee standpoint, I’ve seen a lot happen with increasing the pay of the new hires, and increasing the pay of new supervisors. But those of us in the middle kind reminds me of a little of the CEO that we had that mentioned now, three or four times got here, in the negative way this morning, by having used to be so bad. We were thankful for Frank and we were thankful for you that things are going go going to good. He is gone -- but things are going good now, and we're thankful for that. But a lot of us long-term employees, I'm not dissatisfied with what I make, but I'm kind dissatisfied with the way I see the Company treating those of us in the middle where we’ve got very large turnover.

We used to have turnover back in early 90's, which I didn’t understand. How convenient by lead this Company, it was a great Company, customers always right. I work through retail, many 34 other companies, they always said customers always right. It was never true, they never acted on it. We did act on it. A manager asked me to go to Lowe’s to buy something that was definitely theirs to bring back, so that we could give a customer the money back on a exchange program, because he insisted he bought it from us, that’s how much we wanted to satisfy the customer in '92. Now it’s a Company that our founder started, customer is always right.

Now, we're not -- we're kind of being hollowed out from the middle. Customer or employee of the month used to do something big for employees then it became something to where we got homer badge and a pluck. Now we get a home badge. And that’s it. I was just employee of the month, two months ago, got a homer badge and that was the end of it. I'm not complaining about that as much as I see the middle needle going away. There are glossary stores in our Company, Walmart, I mean in our town. Walmart in our town that are paying the same that we are being paid new hires. There is a lot of people eight, nine, ten years with the Company are leaving to go other places; the bonus, maybe you could bring the bonus back, the longevity bonus maybe even cut it in half what it used to be.

An employee just left that had been nine years with the Company. He was a great employee or he’s relieving next week, he is a great employee. If you have a 10 year longevity bonus instead of the five it used, the 250 or something, he would probably stay. We’re going to $101 billion we’re looking toward. Why don’t we share some of this money a little bit more with the employees? It just hurts a little bit to see the employees in the middle, not being treated the way we used to be treated. And I wanted to bring that up. And I know the opportunity for growth is there to give a heads up to Carol, and I am sure she knows about this. The Atlanta Reserves on the down yesterday, I heard is estimating 4% growth this quarter. We’re looking for 4% growth in the housing market. Home Depot is best positioned in America, you said Canada and Mexico. I think we’re number one home improvement market in America also.

I don’t know why it didn’t that slot wasn’t out there also. But there is a lot of opportunity that I see coming and I just -- for the fourth or fifth time mention that we’ve still being left out by ASDS or peoples out she hasn’t said anything to me. But I do know that there is, from different stores, there is a lot of turnover out there that there shouldn’t be. It's hard to find employees when you’re competing, I would think, with Walmart and with grocery stores already and the grocery stores on Lowe’s. And I think that German stores coming in and bringing in 16-year olds and stuff like that, which we didn’t used to do; nothing against them.

But in a lot of ways, the culture of our Company, which people here in Atlanta in that tower over there, which I would like to come there for lunch today and I would like to see the museum. But you may not know, so I just wanted to vote my opinion on that. And maybe you could think about the employees start a bit little bit more for sharing some of this great wealth that we’re getting to increase the dividends. Thank you. But things like that.

Craig Menear

Thank you very much for your comments. I appreciate it. Yes, there is no question, you’re absolutely right. There is compression that has been taking place in the retail environment, and something we’re working on. But I appreciate your comments. Thank you very much.

Okay, so it looks like that is the end of our questions. So I thank you all very, very much for attending the session here today. We appreciate it. We appreciate the support as shareholders and look forward to seeing you again next year. Thank you.

Copyright policy: All transcripts on this site are the copyright of Seeking Alpha. However, we view them as an important resource for bloggers and journalists, and are excited to contribute to the democratization of financial information on the Internet. (Until now investors have had to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for transcripts.) So our reproduction policy is as follows: You may quote up to 400 words of any transcript on the condition that you attribute the transcript to Seeking Alpha and either link to the original transcript or to All other use is prohibited.


If you have any additional questions about our online transcripts, please contact us at: Thank you!

About this article:

Tagged: , Home Improvement Stores,
Error in this transcript? Let us know.
Contact us to add your company to our coverage or use transcripts in your business.
Learn more about Seeking Alpha transcripts here.