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Home Depot promoting new Thomasville line

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home Depot has launched a series of advertisements touting the retailer’s exclusive new line of Thomasville furniture.

The line of outdoor items is featured in spring-themed television advertisements from the retailer, which highlight the exclusivity of the collection. The line of Thomasville furniture includes the Nature’s Retreat collection, a hardwood outdoor line made from FSC-certified Eucalyptus wood frames. A second collection, called Summer Silhouette, features aluminum frames and plush seating.

According to the Thomasville furniture Web site, the manufacturer’s line of outdoor furniture is only available in Home Depot stores in the United States and at homedepot.com. The company notes that the outdoor furniture line is not available through Thomasville’s stores.

According to Home Depot’s Web site, the Nature’s Retreat collection has been added to the retailer’s Eco Options portfolio of environmentally friendly products.

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Remodeling activity was steady in the first quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Remodeling activity remained steady during the first quarter of 2008, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ Remodeling Market Index (RMI).

The group’s market conditions indicator rose slightly, to 41.8 from 40.9 in the previous quarter. An index measuring future expectations remained unchanged at 37.9.

The Remodeling Market Index measures remodelers’ perceptions of market demand for current and future residential projects. Any number over 50 indicates that the majority of remodelers view the market conditions as improving. The NAHB noted that the index has been running below 50 since the final quarter of 2005.

“The remodeling market continues to show weakness, following the downturn in the overall housing market,” said NAHB chief economist David Seiders. “We expect there to be some further erosion in 2008, with a gradual recovery in 2009.”

Nationally, the RMI components for major additions and alterations during the first quarter increased to 44.15 from 42.28. Minor additions and alterations decreased to 41.57 from 41.76. Maintenance and repair remodeling work increased to 39.68 in the first quarter, from 38.11. The amount of work committed for the next three months decreased to 29.63 from 33.15 in the fourth quarter, “demonstrating a decline in the backlog of remodeling jobs,” the group said.

“Many remodelers are seeing smaller jobs and have a shorter backlog, but we expect activity to increase because necessary home repairs cannot be postponed for a long time,” said NAHB Remodelers chairman Lonny Rutherford.

Regionally, current market expectations dropped in the first quarter in the Northeast to 36.4 from 38.6, and in the South to 42.2 from 45.0. The Midwest, however, increased to 44.1 from 41.1, and the West was up slightly to 42.9 from 42.2.

The RMI is based on a quarterly survey of professional remodelers, whose answers to a series of questions were assigned numerical values to calculate the two separate indexes. Additionally, a variety of “special questions” are also asked at the end of the survey to help pinpoint market trends.

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Earnings rise at Trex

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Earnings at composite decking manufacturer Trex more than tripled in the first quarter to $8.9 million from $2.73 million in the same period last year. Net sales were up 3.1 percent, to $119.5 million from $115.9 million last year.

The company credited expanding distribution for the earnings increase, as well as brand strength, which “enabled us to increase sales revenue despite the weakening economy and continued softness in the building materials industry,” said CEO Ronald Kaplan.

“In addition, our improved gross margin reflects our successful focus on productivity and cost containment initiatives,” he said. “The measures we took in the first quarter — including rightsizing the company, recruiting new management, controlling costs and enhancing operating and financial controls — have established a solid foundation for delivering improved financial results.”

Still, recent poor weather has delayed many outdoor building projects, according to the company. Additionally, building material dealers are “choosing to operate with depressed inventory levels,” and the economic outlook in the United States is still uncertain, Kaplan said. For those reasons, the company is projecting lower revenue in the second quarter, expected to be down 23 percent to 33 percent compared with last year’s second quarter.

Based in Winchester, Va., Trex is a manufacturer of composite decking, railing and fencing products.

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