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American Woodmark falters in the fourth quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Winchester, Va.-based American Woodmark saw earnings falter in the fourth quarter on declining new construction sales as well as lower remodeling sales.

Net income fell to $36,000 from $6.18 million in last year’s fourth quarter. Sales fell 14 percent to $143.3 million from $166.1 million in the same period last year.

The manufacturer saw a decline in gross profit margin, primarily due to the “unfavorable impact of inefficiencies in labor, overhead and freight costs stemming from lower sales volumes, as well as the impact of rising fuel prices upon freight and materials costs,” according to a statement.

For the full year, earnings fell 86.9 percent to $4.27 million from $32.56 million in 2006.

Sales were down 20.8 percent in 2007, to $602.4 million from $760.9 million in the prior year.

American Woodmark manufactures and distributes kitchen cabinets and vanities through 14 manufacturing facilities and nine service centers in the United States.

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Demand dips for lawn and garden products

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Unfavorable weather patterns, lower home values and rising fuel and energy costs conspired to limit demand for lawn and garden products in 2007, according to market research firm Freedonia Group.

Consumer demand for fertilizers, pesticides, soils, mulch and other garden products hit a snag last year when parts of the United States experienced a cold spring and drought conditions throughout the summer, according to a recently released study by the Freedonia Group. Spending on packaged lawn and garden products in 2007 was also dampened by rising fuel and energy costs, as well as lowered home values, the study said.

Going forward, the Freedonia Group projected an annual 4.5 percent rise in lawn and garden sales, with consumers spending approximately $9.3 billion in 2012. The graying of the Baby Boom generation will boost demand, especially for products that extend living spaces like patios and decks.

Other growth categories listed by the study are: fast acting and easy-to-use fertilizers; rubber and colored mulches; and premium soils. Increased concerns over the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides will provide opportunities for organic products, which are expected to undergo substantial improvements in effectiveness, availability and marketing, as well as lower prices.

The Freedonia study also looks at the leading lawn and garden suppliers and their respective market shares in the consumer market. For more information, visit www.freedoniagroup.com.

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DuPont prevails in unusual dioxin case

BY HBSDEALER Staff

DuPont prevailed in the retrial of a civil lawsuit brought by Mississippi resident Glen Strong, who won a $14 million jury verdict from the manufacturer in 2005. Strong had claimed his rare blood cancer was caused by dioxins from a Gulf Coast DuPont plant which he ingested through the air and by eating oysters from the Bay of St. Louis.

ADuPont titanium dioxide plant is located in DeLisle, Miss., about five miles from Strong’s residence.

DuPont attorney Deborah Kuchler told the Associated Press the company argued there was no connection between Strong’s illness and the plant. She said 850 more claims are pending against DuPont stemming from operations at the DeLisle plant.

“DuPont’s plan is to continue to defend these cases and the safety of its operations,” Kuchler told the wire service.

Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont has operations in more than 70 countries.

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