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D.R. Horton swings to loss in first quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

National home builder D.R. Horton swung to a loss in the first quarter of $128.8 million, from $109.7 million in earnings in the same period last year. Revenue from lot sales and home-building sales was $1.61 billion, down 41.7 percent from $2.76 billion last year.

The company took $245.5 million in pre-tax charges for inventory impairments and write-offs related to land option contracts.

Donald Horton, chairman of the board of directors for D.R. Horton, said in a statement that the company reduced inventory and reduced its number of owned lots by more than 10 percent in an attempt to control costs in the first quarter.

“Lending standards continue to be more restrictive than during the previous year, and buyers continued to approach the home buying decision cautiously. We expect the housing environment to remain challenging,” he said.

D.R. Horton is one of the country’s largest home builders, with operations in 82 markets in 27 states.

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Lennox reports ‘solid’ fourth quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Global HVAC manufacturer Lennox International reported what it called a “solid” fourth quarter, with earnings down slightly to $38.8 million from $41.1 million in the same period last year, a 5.5 percent drop. Sales were up 1 percent to $887 million from $873.7 million in the same period last year.

For the full year, earnings were $169 million, up 1.8 percent from $166 million in 2006. Sales totaled $3.75 billion, up 1 percent over the prior year’s total of $3.71 billion, with foreign exchange contributing 2 percent to growth, the company said.

“Lennox International had a solid fourth quarter and strong results for the year,” said Todd Bluedorn, CEO of Lennox International. “Three of our four businesses — Commercial, Service Experts and Refrigeration — had outstanding performance, with profit growth in the double digits and margin expansion.”

Those areas of growth offset a “tough market” in residential sales, a segment in which the company took “aggressive cost reduction actions” this year, Bluedorn said.

The HVAC giant reaffirmed its 2008 outlook, with revenue growth expected at 2 percent to 5 percent.

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Menards eyes Austin, Minn., site

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards has proposed a new store in Austin, Minn., a south central Minnesota city close to the Iowa border, according to a report in the Austin Post-Bulletin.

The retailer has proposed a 162,000-square-foot store on a 78-acre site, which includes space for other commercial developments and multi-family homes, according to the report.

It’s unclear when construction could begin on the project, from summer 2008 to spring 2009.

The site is near a Target store, and a nearby site includes a Wal-Mart Supercenter currently under construction. The Menards store is expected to employ 150 to 200 people.

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