Sometimes you just get blown away about how good some executives are, how well they turn things around and how quickly they do so.
That's how you have to feel about what Marvin Ellison is doing at Lowe's (LOW) . After hearing Home Depot's (HD) call yesterday, you may have been tempted to believe that the Depot was taking share from Lowe's.
After this Lowe's quarter, though, you have to wonder whether the pie is simply bigger, the consumer and the pro customers growing well, or the smaller chains, whatever is left, are going away sooner than expected.
In some ways what's happening at Lowe's is also happening at Target (TGT) , where Brian Cornell just put up fantastic numbers and raised guidance. Cornell's doing it with terrific same-day pick-up initiatives and new store formats that were risky but now look like they are paying off.
The similarities? For the longest time, the consumer really did love shopping at Lowe's and Target more than Home Depot -- especially, in the case of the former, during the dark Nardelli years at Home Depot -- December of 2000 to January of 2007 -- but then both companies lost their way.
Lowe's, so cherished by so many, didn't adapt to the new world of retail. Robert Niblock, CEO of Lowe's for 13 years, stepped down last year and Marvin Ellison, late of Home Depot, took the reins. He has radically changed the company, bringing it up to the times in customer relations management and he's encroaching on the hold Home Depot has on the professional client.
Brian Cornell has basically blown up the old Target format of big boxes that are pretty much indistinguishable from one or another and given you five different formats for five different kinds of locations. He also purchased Shipt, a fantastic online deliver company, and that's adding to the store's comparable-sales numbers versus a year ago. Some doubted anyone could revive Target after the disastrous Gregg Steinghafel years from 2008 to 2014, peaking with the incredibly ill-advised Canadian initiative, closed almost immediately by Cornell.
These chains both put up remarkable numbers. I am waiting for the nitpickers to surface as the inevitable, always-scary, terrifying comments come up during the caustic conference calls. Maybe they will give a chance to buy these stocks before they roar ahead and at last, tariffs or not, break out of the range.
Again, I want to stress that, like with Febrizio Freda at Estee Lauder, like Doug McMillon at Walmart and Craig Menear at Home Depot and the soft-spoken Craig Jelinek at Costco (COST) , execution is defining the strength of the stocks you see. Some know how, others don't. Some stores are increasing in relevance. Others have less and less reason for being.
You know the winners: WATCH. Now how do I introduce an L into the equation?