January starts dip from December’s pace
Housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,246,000, according to data the U.S. Department of Commerce released Thrusday morning. This figure is down 2.6% from the revised December estimate of 1,279,000. Yet, compared to a year ago, starts are up 10.5%.
Single-family starts in January rose 1.9% to a pace of 823,000 — a stat that points clearly at the multi-family housing sector as the cause of the month-to-month overall decline.
More good news for dealers: Permits increased 4.6% from the prior month at a rate of 1,285,000. On a year-over-year basis, permits are up 8.2%.
The biggest percentage gain in residential construction came in the Northeast, where total starts jumped 55.4% on a month-to-month basis. On the other extreme end of regional performance, total starts declined 41.3% in the West, compared to December 2016.
With the January residential construction report comes a revised look at 2016. The final tally for housing starts now stands at 1,174,300, up 5.6% from 2015.
Single-family starts in 2016 increased 9.4% to 781,600.
HHGregg seeks help
It’s been a tough month for Indianapolis-based HHGregg, an appliance and electronics retailer.
First, it was put on notice by the New York Stock Exchange for failure to meet minimum share-price listing requirements.
And this week, it announced it was turning to outside advisers, including a restructuring specialist, for help returning the company to profitability.
The company announced it has engaged Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. and Miller Buckfire & Co., LLC — each subsidiaries of Stifel Financial Corp. — to pursue a range of potential strategic and financial transactions that will support the company’s initiatives to improve liquidity and return to profitability.
“We are committed to improving our results through our business strategy, including investments made to shift our focus to appliances and furniture, and additional expected cost reductions,” said Robert J. Riesbeck, HHGregg’s president and CEO. “We believe it is an appropriate time to explore potential strategic transactions. As the Company undertakes this exploration process, we are focused on the execution of our business strategy and remain fully committed to serving our customers’ needs.”
Stifel Nicolaus and Miller Buckfire have been engaged as HHGregg’s financial adviser and investment banker.
There’s no timetable for the process, nor is their “assurance that this review process will result in a transaction or other strategic alternative of any kind.”
Sales dropped 24% in the quarter ended Dec. 31, while losses widened to $58.3 million.
Shares of HGG were trading at about 50 cents on Thursday morning.