Lowe’s Cos Inc forecast holiday-quarter earnings largely below analysts’ estimates on Wednesday, as the company invests heavily in boosting its online business and doling out employee bonuses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The home improvement chain’s shares, which have gained over 33% this year on steadfast demand from people upgrading their homes, fell 6% premarket. To support the demand surge, Lowe’s has had to spend on upgrading supply chains to get products on shelves faster and improve its online shopping features, which have lagged behind its larger rival Home Depot Inc. Lowe’s has also had to compensate employees working through the health crisis, spending more than $800 million in COVID-19 related pay and bonuses so far this year. It expects earnings of $1.10 to $1.20 per share in the fourth quarter, compared with analysts’ average estimate of $1.17 per share. It, however, sees a 15% to 20% rise in fourth-quarter same-store sales, above analysts’ average estimate of a 9.6% increase, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Lowe’s also said it expects repurchase of about $3 billion of stock in the quarter. Same-store sales rose 30.1% in the third quarter ended Oct. 30, beating analysts’ estimates of an 18% increase. In comparison, larger rival Home Depot Inc reported a 24.1% gain on Tuesday. Net earnings fell to $692 million, or 91 cents per share, from $1.05 billion, or $1.36 per share, as the company incurred a $1.1 billion pre-tax loss on payment of a certain debt. Excluding items, the company earned $1.98 per share, marginally missing estimates of $1.99 per share.