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Housing starts fall in July

BY HBSDEALER Staff

U.S. housing starts in July fell 11 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 965,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That figure is 29.2 percent below the revised July 2007 rate of 1,371,000 units.

Single-family housing starts fell 2.9 percent from June to 641,000; compared with July 2007, that figure fell 10.9 percent.

The number of privately owned housing units that issued building permits last month fell 17.7 percent from June to 937,000, or down 32.4 percent compared with the same period last year.

Building permits for single-family homes fell 5.2 percent month-over-month to 584,000.

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Kuiken Brothers opens new DC

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Kuiken Brothers, the nine-unit chain of New Jersey lumberyards and design centers, will hold an Aug. 19 groundbreaking on a new distribution facility in Succasunna, a community in Roxbury Township. The 12-acre facility, built on the site of a Wickes lumberyard destroyed in a fire, will encompass 130,000 square feet of covered storage. Kuiken Brothers already operates a design center, KB Concepts, on the same site.

“This has been on the drawing board for five years,” company president Doug Kuiken told Home Channel News. The distribution center will serve all of the Kuiken Brothers locations with dimensional lumber, panels, engineered wood products and other building materials, Kuiken said.

Ranked No. 64 on the HCN Top 350 Pro Dealer Scoreboard, Kuiken Brothers serves the northern New Jersey and southern New York markets from Fair Lawn, Emerson, Midland Park, Ogdensburg, Wantage, Garfield, Succasunna, Roseland and Warwick, N.Y. Revenues in 2007 were $130 million.

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Lowe’s earnings decline 7.9 percent in Q2

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lowe’s weathered market headwinds well in the second quarter, beating earnings estimates and seeing gains in lawn and garden and a spike in consumer spending due to economic stimulus checks.

Net earnings declined 7.9 percent to $938 million, down from $1.02 billion in the same period last year. Net sales rose 2.4 percent to $14.5 billion from $14.2 billion in last year’s second quarter.

Comparable-store sales declined 5.3 percent, a better-than-anticipated result for stores opened more than one year.

“Our sales results for the quarter, while better than our forecast, reflect the realities of the continuing macroeconomic pressures on our industry,” said Robert Niblock, Lowe’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Niblock said the retailer saw “relative strength” in seasonal sales, particularly lawn and garden, in large part because of comparisons to a drought period in last year’s second quarter. He added that the company saw a boost in sales presumed to be from economic stimulus tax rebate checks that were issued to a large number of consumers in the second quarter.

Still, “weakness in bigger ticket projects continues, particularly in markets most impacted by the housing downturn,” Niblock said.

In the second quarter, Lowe’s opened 23 new stores.  Currently, the retailer operates 1,577 stores in the United States and Canada. In the third quarter, the company said it expects to open 38 new stores. Lowe’s projects a sales increase of 1 percent to 2 percent in the third quarter, alongside a comparable-store sales decline of 5 percent to 7 percent.

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