The Home Depot said that fourth quarter 2013 sales were down 3% to $17.7 billion compared to the same period in 2012, but noted that the year-ago quarter had 14 weeks of sales versus 13 weeks in the 2013 quarter. Excluding the additional week in 2012, fourth quarter 2013 sales were up 3.9% year over year.

The Atlanta-based retailer reported that U.S. comparable store sales increased 4.9% in the fourth quarter of 2013 today reported that comparable store sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 increased 4.4 percent, and comp sales for U.S. stores were positive 4.9 percent.

Net earnings for the quarter totaled $1 billion, level with the year-ago quarterly earnings.  For the full year, earnings were up 18.7% to $5.4 billion, compared to $4.5 billion in 2012. Operating income in the third quarter came to $1.8 billion, a 0.6% increase over third quarter 2012 operating income of $1.7 billion. For the year, operating income was up 18% to $9.2 billion from $ 7.8 billion in 2012.

"In 2013, we posted our strongest comp sales growth in 14 years as solid execution and the recovering housing market aided our performance," says chairman and CEO Frank Blake.

The company expects sales growth in the coming year of 4.8%, with comparable store sales increasing 4.6%. The chain will open seven new stores in 2014.