Home Depot sticks by outlook, buys back $15 billion in stock

FILE - In this Wednesday, May 18, 2016, file photo, people approach an entrance to a Home Depot store in Bellingham, Mass. Home Depot is sticking by its outlook for the year and will buy back $15...

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NEW YORK (AP) — Home Depot is sticking by its outlook for the year and will buy back $15 billion in company shares.

The Atlanta company is laying out its strategy to investors Wednesday, with CEO Craig Menear saying that the retail landscape is changing at an unprecedented pace.

Home Depot expects to post annual, per-share profits of $7.36, and comparable-store sales growth of 6.5 percent.

Sales in the most recent quarter surged, thanks in part to rebuilding efforts after a pair of devastating hurricanes hit Texas and Florida, and wildfires consumed entire neighborhoods in the West.

The company is focusing on making its online services and sales more connected to its brick-and-mortar operations, while improving delivery. The focus comes as Amazon.com has upended much of the retail sector with free delivery to customers who pay for Prime memberships.

Home Depot expects its website to surpass 1.8 billion visits this year while it bolsters options for specific types of customers, including professionals and homeowners doing their own projects and repairs.

"The front door of our stores is no longer the front door to our stores," Menear said.

The retailer plans to spend more investing in improving technology and services. That could slow its margin expansion, said Citi analyst Kate McShane. But, it will help give them a better long-term position.

In morning trading, Home Depot shares fell $2.70 to $180.15. The stock has rallied 34 percent in the year to date.