BlueLinx revenues down in third quarter
Atlanta-based BlueLinx Holdings, a leading distributor of building products in North America, reported a net loss of $2.6 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 27, 2008, swinging from profits of $0.9 million for the same period in 2007.
The reported net loss includes an after-tax restructuring charge of approximately $2.0 million related to the previously announced closing of BlueLinx’s California-based Lane Stanton Vance milling and manufacturing operations, as well as an after-tax charge of approximately $1.6 million related to a decline in prices for the company’s metal inventory.
In addition, sales of $727 million represented a 28.5 percent decline from $1.02 billion for the same period a year ago. This reflected a 36 percent drop in structural product sales and a 19 percent drop in specialty product sales from the year ago period.
The overall third-quarter unit volume decline of 33 percent was mainly due to a 33 percent drop in housing starts relative to year-ago levels, the company said.
“While our results were impacted by the downturn in the housing market, our performance was in line with our expectations for the quarter,” said George Judd, BlueLinx’s newly appointed CEO. “We remain focused on managing cash flow by tightly managing inventories, receivables and our operating expenses.”
Judd went on to say that during the third quarter, his company continued to provide quality service to its customers and suppliers, generated $69 million in cash flow from operating activities and ended the period with $71 million in cash, plus $227 million in excess borrowing availability on the company’s revolving credit facility.
“While we expect a very difficult fourth quarter, Bluelinx is financially and operationally positioned to be able to continue executing throughout this unprecedented housing downturn,” he added.
Survey: Lowe’s scores highest in customer satisfaction for major appliances
Lowe’s received the highest score in customer satisfaction among major appliance retailers, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The new study measured customer satisfaction with the largest appliance retailers based on sales staff, installation service, delivery service, store facility, merchandise and price — in decreasing order of importance.
Lowe’s scored an 804 on a 1,000-point scale and drew high marks for its installation service, delivery service and store facility factors. H.H. Gregg (799) and Best Buy (788) follow Lowe’s in the rankings. Sears ranked fourth, and Home Depot was fifth.
Responses from 9,200 consumers who purchased a laundry or kitchen appliance within the previous 24 months from a store that sells home appliances between June and July 2008 were the basis for the study.
Abby Buford, a spokeswoman for Lowe’s, said the home center was “very pleased that customers rated their experience positively and feel we are doing a good job.”
Dale Haines, senior director of the real estate and construction practice at J.D. Power, said their study found that 40 percent of appliance owners only shopped at the retailer from which they purchased their appliance. Haines noted there is little shopping around in appliances because so many purchases are urgent. “We think that in many cases the appliance they are replacing failed and they need one right away, so there is probably a large number of people who are going to buy a replacement today, which is also why in-stock availability is also important. If I can get it at the same price from two places, and one of the stores has the appliance, I will buy it there.”
J.D. Power research also shows that one out of five consumers chose a retailer in part because the store offered the right financing.
In a market in which nearly one-third of customers make a purchase decision based on a single retailer visit, delivering superior customer service is a must, Haines said, citing his company’s research findings. “After the purchase is made, the responsiveness of the retailer in rectifying any problems that may occur during delivery or installation can make the difference between a positive start to the ownership experience — which can foster customer loyalty — or one that is perceived negatively by the owner,” Haines said.
M/I Homes sees net loss for Q3
Columbus, Ohio-based M/I Homes has reported a net loss of $58.7 million for the third quarter, compared to a net loss of $24.2 million in the year-ago period. The 2008 results reflect a $21.6 million after-tax expense for the FAS 109 increase in the company’s deferred tax asset valuation allowance.
Revenue for the quarter was $160.4 million, down 31 percent from $233.0 million.
The home builder delivered 555 homes in the third quarter, down 29 percent from 787 in same period last year.
New contracts for the quarter were 456, down 19 percent from 561 in the 2007 third quarter.
“We remain in a primarily defensive operating mode — focusing on generating cash, reducing debt levels and expenses — and we have made considerable progress on a number of fronts,” said Robert H. Schottenstein, CEO and president. “At the end of the third quarter, the outstanding balance on our home-building credit facility was reduced to zero, our net debt to capital ratio stood at 32 percent, and we had cash of $14 million.”