No. 2 U.S. home improvement chain Lowe's Cos Inc reported a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit, hurt by a slow start to the spring selling season.

Colder-than-usual weather and high precipitation rates kept many shoppers away in many parts of the United States, Lowe's main market.

Both Lowe's and larger rival Home Depot Inc are also up against strong numbers from last year, when a first-time homebuyer tax credit and cash for appliances program helped boost demand. Home Depot is due to report its results on Tuesday.

During the quarter, we faced ongoing economic pressures, unfavorable weather conditions and tough comparisons to last year's government stimulus programs, Lowe's Chief Executive Officer Robert Niblock said in a statement.

Net income fell to $461 million, or 34 cents a share, in the first quarter ended on April 29 from $489 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 36 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales fell 1.6 percent to $12.19 billion, missing the analysts' average estimate of $12.52 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 3.3 percent.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)