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Ace net income up 11.7 percent in Q2

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Despite soft sales, Ace Hardware reported a strong second quarter, thanks partly to good weather, expense control and stimulus checks.

“Although top-line revenues declined, we saw an improvement in sales trends from the first quarter, particularly in the latter half of the second quarter,” president and CEO Ray Griffith said of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op’s quarterly results, which were released Aug. 12. “Second-quarter business benefited from improved seasonal weather, and the recent economic stimulus efforts appear to have helped boost consumer spending.”

Ace reported net income of $33.4 million—up 11.7 percent from the $29.5 million reported last year. Total revenues were down 2.7 percent to $1.067 billion. Merchandise sales from Ace’s international business continued to be strong and contributed $6.5 million in incremental sales, up 13.5 percent compared with 2007.

On a category basis, domestic revenues were negatively impacted by declines in the tools, paint, plumbing and electrical categories and were partially offset by lawn and garden sales gains.

Operating expenses decreased 10 percent, to $82.5 million in the quarter.

“We made good progress in reducing our expenses in the second quarter in light of the challenging economic environment,” Griffith said. “We continue to review our cost structure and will be making the necessary adjustments to deliver strong profitability while continuing to invest in and drive the Ace brand.”

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Toro’s earnings decline in third quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Pointing to the weakness of the domestic economy, Toro reported fiscal third-quarter net earnings of $38.2 million, down 10.1 percent from $42.5 million last year.

New sales grew 3 percent to $492.6 million, up from $478.7 million the previous year, which the company attributed to the strength of its international business.

Professional segment net sales for the quarter increased 5.9 percent to $351.6 million, while residential sales declined 0.6 percent to $132.1 million.

The company expects overall economic conditions to remain difficult for the remainder of fiscal 2008. “In the current environment, we’ll maintain our focus on driving retail demand, managing inventory levels and addressing rising commodity costs,” said Michael J. Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and CEO.

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Do it Best names e-commerce manager

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Do it Best has hired Joe Caldwell — who has a background in e-commerce infrastructure and more than five year’s experience in network administration — as its e-commerce manager.

In this position, Caldwell will oversee the development, administration and operation of the company’s Web site, doitbest.com, including coordinating on-site advertising with vendors and shipping orders. The company’s customer service center, which helps members with logistics, shipping and product information, also falls under his jurisdiction.

Caldwell will report to Bill Zielke, vp-marketing, for the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based co-op.

Caldwell previously worked as facility manager with Brentwood, Tenn.-based American Color, one of North America’s largest full-service premedia and print companies, where he managed the print projects for Do it Best. Prior to that, he worked with Kruse International in Auburn, Ind., as a network administrator, coordinating the online and live auto auction administration.

Aresident of Fort Wayne, Ind., Caldwell is currently working toward his bachelor’s degree in internet information security at ITT Technical Institute.

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