Home improvement retailer Lowe's Cos Inc forecast earnings for its next fiscal year that could fall short of Wall Street expectations, sending its shares down 2.3 percent.

Lowe's, the No. 2 U.S. home improvement chain behind Home Depot Inc , said last month it expected a recovery in the North American market starting in the first quarter of 2010 after a U.S. housing slump led homebuilders and consumers to put off major renovations and related purchases.

Consumers are shifting to more do-it-yourself projects as they balance convenience with the cost of outsourcing, Lowe's Chief Executive Robert Niblock said ahead of a company meeting on Tuesday with analysts and investors at its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For its fiscal year 2010, ending January 28, 2011, Lowe's forecast earnings of $1.24 to $1.34 a share and a sales rise of 3 percent to 4 percent. Analysts' average forecast is $1.33 a share on sales of $48.36 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

Lowe's stood by its previous forecast for fiscal 2009, which ends on January 29. It expects earnings of $1.13 to $1.21 a share on a sales decline of 3 percent. It said it may have to take impairment charges of up to $100 million due to uncertainty about economic recovery.

According to Reuters Estimates, analysts expect the company to report sales of $46.84 billion and earnings of $1.20 a share for fiscal 2009.

The company, which recently decided to slow its North American store expansion after a 19 percent drop in quarterly profit, said future growth would be fueled by prudent store expansion in underserved markets and internationally.

The news came nearly a month after Lowe's made its first foray outside North America -- a joint venture with Woolworths Ltd , Australia's largest retailer.

Lowe's shares were down 51 cents, or 2.3 percent, at $21.44 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Maureen Bavdek and John Wallace)