Hurt by a softer housing market in the United Stats, The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) posted a decline in its first quarter profit on Tuesday, falling short of analysts' expectations.

The world's largest home-improvement store said that for the quarter ending April 29, net income fell 29 percent to $1.05 billion, or 53 cents per share, compared to a profit of $1.48 billion, or 70 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

Revenue increased slightly to $21.59 billion, 0.6 percent greater than the $21.46 billion reported last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected quarterly earnings of 59 cents per share on sales of $21.83 billion.

'The housing market continues to be a challenge, and erratic weather conditions across the United States negatively affected our spring selling season, Home Depot CEO, Frank Blake stated.

Retail store sales fell 4.3 percent to $18.5 billion, while sales in the supply segment geared to professional contractors rose 46 percent to $3.1 billion, aided by acquisitions.

Same store sales at locations open for more than a year - a key industry metric - fell 7.6 percent.

Home Depot said it expected per-share earnings for this year to fall at the low end of a previously forecast range of 4 percent to 9 percent.

'We believe the home improvement market will remain soft throughout 2007,' Blake said. 'We plan to continue our reinvestment plans for the long-term health of the business, understanding that it will put short-term pressure on earnings.'

Shares of Home Depot fell 13 cents, or 0.33 percent, to $38.88 in Tuesday mid-day trading on the new York Stock Exchange.