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Ace launches online greeting card tool

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ace Hardware has launched, “Ace Your Face,” a marketing campaign that allows consumers to create and send holiday greetings online — against an Ace backdrop.

Available on www.aceyourface.acehardware.com, this online tool allows individuals to upload photos and create customized holiday scenes. The eight settings feature group shots with matching snowman sweaters, winter sports adventures and Santa visits.  “Ace Your Face” can be shared via e-mail, social media sites and blog links. 

The marketing and advertising promotions for the campaign include direct e-mails to corporate employees and to members of Ace Rewards, Ace’s one-to-one customer loyalty program. Promotions can also be found on banner ads on social media sites like Facebook, as well as AOL and Yahoo!, and paid search initiatives.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company said “Ace Your Face” site has attracted nearly 60,000 visitors, and more than 12,000 of them have created cards and sent them on to an average of two people each. During its first week, “Ace Your Face” ranked in the top spot in Google’s natural search results and has been seen in more than 120 countries around the world, the company said.

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Toll Brothers reports Q4 and full year losses

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Toll Brothers, one of the nation’s largest home builders with a specialty in luxury homes, reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $78.8 million, compared to a net loss of $81.8 million in the year-ago period. The company’s full fiscal year, which ended Oct. 31, 2008, saw a net loss of $297.8 million, compared to net income of $35.7 million for 2007’s full-year.

“Obviously there are enormous challenges in our industry. But we believe the financial strength of our organization will put us in a good position to take advantage of opportunities … that we expect will arise from the industry’s current distress,” said Robert I. Toll, chairman and CEO.

“We are beginning to see some deals that are appealing in terms of quality but not price: We believe our strong capital position will give us an advantage in competing for them at the appropriate time,” he added.

In addition, fourth-quarter revenues were $698.9 million, down 40 percent from revenues of $1.17 billion in the same period last year. Twelve-month revenues were $3.16 billion, down 32 percent from 2007’s twelve-month revenues of $4.65 billion.

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Toro breaks even in Q4

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Toro reported break-even net earnings of $13,000 on net sales of $341 million for the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31, compared to net earnings of $6.5 million on net sales of $332.5 million in the same period last year.

Net earnings in the fourth quarter were reduced by a pre-tax charge of $4.7 million, or $0.08 per share, on an after-tax basis. The charge was taken in its fiscal fourth quarter to account for work force adjustments, the company reported.

For the full year, the Bloomington, Minn.-based company reported a decline of 15.9 percent on net earnings of $119.7 million, or $3.10 per share, compared to $142.4 million, or $3.40 per share, in 2007. Net sales were flat at $1,878.2 million, compared to $1,876.9 million last year.

At the same time, international sales grew 12 percent to offset weakness in domestic business. Toro also generated a record $216 million in cash flow for fiscal 2008 — $32 million more than the previous year — and returned $133 million to shareholders through dividend payments and share repurchases.

Entering the new fiscal year, the company says its liquidity position is solid, as indicated by a strong cash balance and supporting committed credit facilities. “While our revenue growth was impacted for the year due to persistently difficult domestic market conditions, Toro and field inventories are down significantly and should benefit us in the coming year,” said Michael J. Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and CEO.

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