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Kobalt to launch improved Mechanics Tools line in June

BY HBSDEALER Staff

With a little help from Nascar champ Jimmie Johnson’s team of mechanics, Kobalt is launching what it calls a "new and improved" Kobalt Mechanics Tools line in June at all Lowe’s stores nationwide.

Lowe’s tools merchandising VP David Vaughn said Kobalt started as a mechanics tools brand in 1998, and the launch marks a return to its roots. The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team was involved in the redevelopment process, he said. “We leaned on our friends and ultimate car experts over at Team 48 to tell us what we could improve, and we made changes that will help take the Next Generation of Tough Tools to the next level of quality and greatness," Vaughn said. "We’re very proud of the new line.”

A few of the key features consumers will see in the new line include:

• Ratchets upgraded to 72 teeth count with 5 degrees of arc, recommended by Team 48 for ease of use in tight spaces;

• Each socket has the size laser etched on the socket, and each one is also color-coded with a red (SAE) or blue (Metric) band to delineate between Standard (SAE) and Metric (MM) sockets;

• Ratchets featuring new quick-release function for quick swap-out of sockets and accessories; and 

• Upgraded cases with improved tool retention and increased durability

Kobalt is a brand of Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s and is sold exclusively at Lowe’s.

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Consumer sentiment pushes upward

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The latest monthly update from the Home Improvement Research Institute shows a planned home improvement project incidence of 50.4% among consumers in April. That’s up 2.8% from the year-ago month and the second month in a row of year-over-year increases.

After a sharp drop in December, the first four months of planned project incidence have been mostly up, or very slightly down compared with last year, according to HIRI’s Monthly Sentiment Tracking.

The estimated cost of planned home improvement projects in April increased 1% from a year ago to $493.

HIRI is the home improvement industry’s foremost source for original research. It is an independent, not-for-profit membership organization comprised of more than 80 leading companies.

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Toro reports rise in Q2 earnings, sales

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bloomington, Minn.-based Toro has reported second-quarter net earnings of $60.3 million, up 32% from net earnings of $45.7 million in the same period last year.

Net sales for the quarter ended April 29 totaled $631.6 million, up 12% from net sales of $562.8 million in the second quarter of 2010.

For the first six months of the fiscal period, Toro reported net earnings of $77.5 million, up 37% from net earnings of $56.6 million in the year-ago period.

Net sales for the first six months were $1.01 billion, up 13% from net sales of $894.2 million in the same period last year.

"We are very pleased with our second-quarter performance, as our execution serving the professional markets led to significant revenue and earnings growth, putting Toro on an early trajectory toward our Destination 2014 organic growth and profitability goals," said Michael J. Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and CEO.

Professional segment earnings for the second quarter totaled $85.6 million, up 26.6% from the prior-year period. Net sales were $418.3 million, up 19.7% from last year. For the first six months, professional segment net sales were $676.6 million, up 20.3% from the same period last year. Six-month earnings were $123.5 million, up 32.2% from the comparable fiscal 2010 period.

Residential segment earnings for the second quarter totaled $26.5 million, up 5.7% from the prior-year period. Net sales were $209.6 million, down slightly from the second quarter in 2010. For the first six months, residential segment earnings were $37.9 million, down 1.6% from the comparable fiscal 2010 period. Net sales for the six months were $332.9 million, up 1.9% from last year.

The company expects net earnings for fiscal 2011 to be about $3.60 per share on a revenue increase of about 10% to 12%.

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