Home Depot’s improving financial picture have some shareholders hoping the company might announce a stock split.
But CEO Frank Blake threw cold water on the prospect at Thursday’s annual shareholder meeting.
“We are not going to split the stock,” Blake told the crowd at the Galleria Center in Cobb County, not far from Home Depot’s headquarters. “Mathematically there is no value in a split.”
Stock splits give shareholders more shares but lower the per-share price. The new, lower price may attract more small investors, driving prices up again.
During the generally congenial meeting, Blake outlined growth plans, new online services and internal business, including hiring KPMG as its auditor.
The gathering came two days after the giant chain posted stronger-than-expected sales for the first quarter on the strength of an improving national housing picture.
The company revised its guidance for fiscal 2013 saying it now anticipates overall sales will increase about 2.8 percent while same-store sales will rise 4 percent.
Shareholders turned down a proposal that would have asked the board of directors to consider sharing more data about racial diversity. Backers said the company has spent more than $100 million over the past 16 years to settle discrimination lawsuits and that being more transparent would make Home Depot more competitive.
A proposal to create a stormwater policy to eliminate runoff from gardening products such as fertilizer also failed.
But most remarks were supportive of the company. Shareholders applauded the retailer’s improving in-store service, its more than $78 a-share stock price - up about 60 percent in the past year - and leadership at its corporate office.
Other questions sought clarity on Home Depot’s plan to implement the Affordable Care Act, new products that might be coming and the company’s exit from big box stores in China.
Shareholder Jack Edwards asked Blake if he regrets selling HD Supply, a contractor-focused division that Blake felt distracted from the core retail business when he took the helm in 2007.
“It is very difficult for any organization to be excellent at one thing,” Blake said. “It is extraordinarily difficult for an organization to be good at two lines of business.”