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Home Depot elects new board member

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home Depot has named Armando Codina the 12th member of the company’s board of directors.

Codina, 60, is president and CEO of Flagler Development Group, a Florida-based commercial real estate firm.

Flagler is a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries (FECI). FECI was acquired in July of this year by funds managed by Fortress Investment Group, a global alternative asset manager with approximately $36 billion in assets under management.

At the time of the acquisition, Codina was the largest private shareholder of FECI, having sold his 26-year-old predecessor firm, the Codina Group, to FECI in April 2006. Prior to establishing the Codina Group, Codina was president of Professional Automated Services, a firm created in 1970 to provide data processing services to physicians.

“We are extremely pleased to have a business leader and entrepreneur of the caliber of Armando Codina join our board of directors,” said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO of Home Depot. “He brings enormous financial, operational and strategic expertise to the board and to our business.”

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Huber settles OSB lawsuit

BY HBSDEALER Staff

J.M. Huber has agreed to a $2 million settlement in a class action lawsuit that accuses OSB (Oriented Strand Board) producers of artificially inflating the price of their products. At an Aug. 14 hearing in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, there were no objections to the proposed settlement, clearing the way for Huber’s formal exit from the case in 90 days.

In a statement filed with the court, Huber vigorously denies the charges. The Charlotte, N.C.-based wood products producer agreed to the settlement “solely to avoid further expense and inconvenience as well as the distraction and uncertainties of extremely burdensome litigation,” the company said in a prepared statement.

The antitrust case, filed in February 2006, was granted class-action status on Aug. 3. The $2 million settlement, payable to individuals or businesses who purchased OSB between June 1, 2002, to March 5, 2007, will be held in an escrow account until the entire case is resolved. Other defendants named in the lawsuit are Louisiana-Pacific, Weyerhaeuser, Ainsworth Lumber, Norbord Industries, Potlatch, Tolko Industries and Grant Forest Products.

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Builder confidence, home prices slide

BY HBSDEALER Staff

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), builder confidence fell in August two points to 22, compared with a level of 24 last month, its lowest level since January 1991. Scores from three component indexes are used to calculate the seasonally adjusted index, where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

Builders are responding by trimming prices and stepping up non-price incentives to sell homes in a difficult market, a statement from the NAHB said.

“Builders realize that issues related to mortgage credit cost and availability have become more acute, filtering some prospective buyers out of the market and prompting others to delay their decision to purchase a new home,” said NAHB president Brian Catalde.

Three out of four regions of the country reported declines in the index in July — the South’s reading remained unchanged at 25. The West recorded a one-point decline to 23, the Northeast posted a two-point decline to 30 and the Midwest reported a five-point decline to 14.

Home prices also dropped for the fourth straight quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The median single-family home price was $223,800 during the second quarter, down 1.5 percent from last year. Condo prices rose 1 percent to $226,800.

Prices are off 1.7 percent from their peak of $227,600, recorded during the third quarter of 2005. The biggest year-over-year decline on record of 2.7 percent came in the fourth quarter of 2006.

NAR senior economist Lawrence Yun said the results were “encouraging.”

“Although home prices are relatively flat, more metro areas are showing price gains with general improvement since bottoming-out in the fourth quarter of 2006,” he said. “Recent mortgage disruptions will hold back sales temporarily, but the fundamental momentum clearly suggests stabilizing price trends in many local markets.”

In individual metropolitan areas, prices showed strength in Salt Lake City, up 21.9 percent to $233,100; and in Salem, Ore., up 16.7 percent to $227,900.

Price plunged in Elmira, N.Y., down 17.9 percent to $71,700; in Palm Bay, Fla., down 15 percent to $183,300; and in Davenport, Iowa, down 11.3 percent to $103,300.

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