ATLANTA -- The Home Depot (NYSE: HD) is bullish on the home improvement business, reporting sales of $22.5 billion for the second quarter 2013, 9.5% ahead of last year - despite the fact there was an extra week during the 2013 period.

Net earnings for the second quarter were $1.8 billion, more than 17% higher than the year prior period. Home Depot's professional contractor services are a popular spot for custom woodworkers and cabinetmakers seeking tools, lumber, hardware and moulding.

"The second quarter results exceeded our expectations," said CEO Frank Blake, attributing the improvement to "the recovering housing market in the U.S.," with home renovation benefiting sales at its 2,258 stores throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Home Depot now expects sales to be up 4.5%. It is also buying back $2.2 billion in shares.  

During a conference call, CFO Carol Tomé said sales related to Hurricane Sandy were approximately $47 million in the second quarter. She noted that Home Depot actively promotes credit lines for professional contractor  customers, with a 70% aproval rating of an average  $6,800 credit line. 

Executive VP Marvin Ellison said that Home Depot invested in its Professional Area checkout. "We also invested in loading; pro buyers want to get in and out."