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Lumber Liquidators sees sales surge

BY Ken Clark

Toano, Va.-based Lumber Liquidators reported a 20.8% sale surge in the fourth quarter to $210.7 million, up from $174.5 million in the same quarter last year.

“We delivered a record quarter, in total net sales, gross and operating margin, net income and free cash flow,” said Robert Lynch, president and CEO. “We were particularly pleased with the increases in both traffic and ticket as the broadening of our advertising and branding message resonated with a larger population of flooring customers.” 

Comp-store sales increased 13.2% for the quarter, driven by a 9.1% increase in the number of customers invoiced and a 3.9% increase in the average sale.

Net income for the quarter increased 63.2% to $13.8 million, up from $8.5 million. 

For the full year, sales increased 19.3% to $813.3 million on sales of $77.2 million. Comp-store sales for the year increased 11.4%.

As of Dec. 31, the company operated 288 stores, including four stores opened during the fourth quarter of 2012, for a total of 25 stores opened during the year.

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Solar fusion: Industry groups form alliance

BY Ken Clark

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the U.S. Solar Heating and Cooling Council (SHC Council) launched the U.S. Solar Heating & Cooling Alliance (SHC Alliance).

The Alliance is focused on growing the solar heating and cooling market through reducing barriers and advocating for policies on the federal, state and local levels.

The newly elected leaders of the U.S. Solar Heating & Cooling Alliance are:

  • Chair Mike Healy, Skyline Innovations;
  • Vice Chair Matt Carlson, Sunnovations;
  • Treasurer Eileen Prado, SRCC  (Solar Rating & Certification Corporation); and
  • Rotating members Les Nelson, IAMPO  (International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials) and Ole Pilgaard, Heliodyne.

“We’re thrilled that this partnership between SEIA and the U.S. solar heating and cooling (SHC) industry has been established to focus on securing pathways to greater deployment of solar heating and cooling technologies,” said newly elected SHC Alliance Chairman Mike Healy. “This collaboration will empower us to heighten awareness of this technology and the benefits it can provide to families and businesses.”

The SHC Alliance will be governed collaboratively by SEIA and the Alliance’s governing body, the U.S. Solar Heating and Cooling Council. 

The new SHC Alliance outlined its objectives:

  • To catalyze a common vision and raise awareness with all stakeholders, including policymakers, potential customers, investors and financiers;
  • To serve as the coordinated go-to voice on industry issues to ensure stakeholder interests are protected;
  • To energize the industry through collaboration and funding of collective priorities; and
  • To take action to maintain and develop markets for SHC businesses to be a success.

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Housing starts decline in January

BY Ken Clark

The million-starts milestone moved a step away from the home-building industry. But it remains well in sight, as data released Wednesday showed an 8.5% decline in the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts.

The January figure was 890,000, down from an upwardly revised December rate of 973,000, according to the new residential construction data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Compared with a year ago, the rate of total housing starts is up 23.6%. 

There was better news on the single-family front, where the rate of new housing starts increased to 613,000, the highest level since July 2008. Single-family starts were up 0.8% from December, and up 20.0% from the same month last year. 

Building permits in January were at a rate of 925,000, up 1.8% from the December rate of 909,000. 

On an unadjusted basis, January saw an estimated 58,500 total starts, and 39,600 single-family starts.

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