Housewares giant warns on sales
Lifetime Brands, one of North America’s largest makers of housewares, has said it expects lower sales in the fourth quarter than previously forecast, to $490 million to $495 million, downwardly revised from $500 million to $515 million.
The company expects to release its fourth-quarter and year-end 2007 results in early March.
The company did not cite a specific reason for the lower sales, but Jeffrey Siegel, chairman, president and CEO of Lifetime Brands, characterized the current retail environment as “challenging.”
“We continue to make progress in our long-term strategic objectives. We expect continued strong product placement in 2008,” he added.
Garden City, N.Y.-based Lifetime Brands makes and markets products under a number of banners, including the Martha Stewart Collection, KitchenAid, Farberware and Pfaltzgraff.
Weyerhaeuser reports loss in fourth quarter
Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser reported a net fourth-quarter loss of $63 million, swinging from earnings of $507 million in the same period last year. Sales were $3.9 billion, down 23.1 percent from $4.8 billion last year.
For the year, the forest products company had net earnings of $790 million, up 74.4 percent from $453 million in 2006. Sales dropped, however, to $16.3 billion from $18.7 billion last year, a decline of 12.8 percent.
Steven Rogel, chairman and CEO of Weyerhaeuser, characterized 2007 as a “challenging year” and said the company has been implementing ongoing improvements to its packaging business, while implementing “growth strategies” in its timberlands business.
“The continuing erosion of the U.S. housing market created very unfavorable market conditions for our timberlands, wood products and real estate businesses,” Rogel said. “Despite difficult market conditions, which we expect to continue through 2008, Weyerhaeuser remains focused on managing through the downturn.”
The company’s real estate business took the largest hit, with earnings falling 52 percent. Orders were down 19 percent, and the company’s backlog of homes sold, but not closed, dropped 35 percent.
Weyerhaeuser is one of North America’s largest diversified wood products companies.
NAR weighs in on Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae reform
The National Association of Realtors has submitted a position to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development, supporting increased loan limits in government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Reform to the two main government-sponsored lending organizations has been a topic of debate in light of the damaged subprime mortgage market.
Proponents of raising loan limits say it is a needed stimulus for the housing market. Opponents say giving the lending organizations a route to the “jumbo” loan market could be dangerous without additional safeguards.
Currently, a cap of $417,000 exists on loans issued by the GSEs. The NAR and other proponents of the stimulus plan support raising the GSE lending limit to $625,000.
The NAR submitted testimony to the HUD committee saying, “Fannie and Freddie are our partners in the housing industry and are important to stabilizing and strengthening the housing market.”
The group said the package could help “as many as” 500,000 jumbo loan borrowers to refinance. Additionally, the NAR says a higher rate limit could allow a large number of borrowers to enter the home buying market.