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Continued weakness in home remodeling expected into 2012

BY HBSDealer Staff

Home improvement spending will remain weak through the first half of 2012 thanks to a down economy and housing market, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA pointed to a modest decline in annual homeowner improvement spending over the next several quarters.

“After pulling through the worst of the downturn in home improvement spending, we appear to be entering another period of softening,” says Eric Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center. “The ups and downs in the economy are being reflected in home improvement activity.”

“Absent a more sustained upturn in the broader housing market, particularly in the sales of existing homes, there’s not much to propel growth in home improvement spending,” said Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center. “Homeowners are continuing to undertake smaller jobs, but are still nervous about larger discretionary projects." 

Designed to estimate national homeowner spending on improvements for the current quarter and subsequent three quarters, the LIRA provides a short-term outlook of homeowner remodeling activity and is intended to help identify future turning points in the business cycle of the home improvement industry.

The Remodeling Futures Program, initiated by the Joint Center for Housing Studies in 1995, is a comprehensive study of the factors influencing the growth and changing characteristics of housing renovation and repair activity in the United States. It seeks to produce a better understanding of the home improvement industry and its relationship to the broader residential construction industry.

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Tractor Supply records strong Q3

BY HBSDealer Staff

Strong results in consumable categories, a little inflation and some Hurricane Irene-related sales fueled an 11.5% same-store sales increase and led to a strong overall third-quarter financial performance at Tractor Supply. 

Net income for the quarter was $42.7 million, up 42.8% from net income of $29.9 million in the third quarter of the prior year.

Third-quarter net sales increased 17.9% to $977.8 million from $829.1 million in the prior year’s third quarter.

“We generated double-digit increases in both sales and earnings on top of last year’s record results while improving gross margin and leveraging (selling, general and administrative expenses),” said Jim Wright, Tractor Supply’s chairman and CEO. “This strong performance, which also included positive ticket and traffic, reflects the impact of our strategic initiatives and our ability to respond to our customers’ everyday rural lifestyle needs. Additionally, we executed exceptionally well and successfully managed through the inflationary environment. We are delighted that we continue to experience broad-based strength across the business.” 

The company opened 12 new stores during the quarter and ended the period with 1,054 stores in 44 states.

During the first nine months of 2011, net income was $152.2 million, up 29% from net income of $117.8 million for the first nine months of 2010. Net sales for this period increased 14.9% to $2.99 billion from $2.61 billion in the first nine months of 2010. Same-store sales increased 8.5% compared to a 4.8% increase in the first nine months of 2010. 

The company opened 54 new stores, relocated two stores and closed one store, compared with 47 new store openings and one store closure during the first nine months of 2010.

Looking forward, Tractor Supply now expects full-year profits to range from $2.85 to $2.89 a share compared with a previous estimate of $2.75 to $2.82 a share.

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Sherwin-Williams to pay for hazardous waste

BY HBSDealer Staff

Sherwin-Williams has agreed to pay $570,000 to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its paint manufacturing facility at 2325 Hollins Ferry Rd. in Baltimore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced. 

EPA cited Sherwin-Williams for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which governs the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste.

EPA alleged the following violations:
• Storage of 55-gal. drums of waste paint for greater than 90 days;
• Failure to date and properly label hazardous waste containers;
• Failure to properly close and prevent hazardous waste containers from leaking;
• Failure to comply with certain inspection requirements for hazardous waste containers; and
• Failure to immediately respond to a release at the facility.

As part of the settlement, Sherwin-Williams has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements. 

The RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.

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