A little good news from Wall Street this past week. Home Depot stock got hammered, reaching a near four year low. The drop in stock price followed the downgrading of the Orange stock by Merrill Lynch. The Depot price wound up in the $28 range — a level the stock has not traded at since the fall of 1998, according to Reuters news. Investors, said the news service, were questioning Home Depot’s growth prospects, and its titanic struggle with 2nd. place Lowe’s home improvement stores. Home Depot’s sole control of the big box home improvement market in a number of trade areas is being challenged by the Blue company. Many smaller home improvement companies never made it to Wall Street, and were driven out of the market by the big players. The Merrill analyst said Home Depot needs a “major overhaul of is older, hard-core look warehouses to compete more effetively with Lowe’s newer, more decorative outlets.”
No, what Home Depot really needs is a major overhaul of its hard-core attitude towards the communities it foists its stores upon — including more flexibility in downsizing its stores and avoiding locations adjacent to large residential communities. In that regard, Home Depot and Lowe’s share the same insensitivity to local communities. Seen from that perspective, investors would be doing themselves a favor to “not buy” these companies shares, and not buy their products either.