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Masco reports strong growth in fourth quarter

BY Ken Clark

Taylor, Mich.-based Masco Corp. said cost reduction played a role in what it described as a "strong" fourth quarter that provides momentum for the year 2013.

Sales were up 9% to $1.89 billion for the quarter. The company narrowed its fourth-quarter net loss to $87 million, compared with a net loss of $573 million in the fourth quarter last year.

"Our solid fourth-quarter results reflect the successful execution of our strategic initiatives, including leveraging our brands, reducing our costs, improving our Installation and Cabinet segments and strengthening our balance sheet," said Masco`s president and CEO, Tim Wadhams. "Our sales and margin growth represent strong performance across all of our operating segments, including a return to profitability in our Installation segment. We believe this momentum will continue into 2013." 

The company offered insights into the fourth-quarter performance of its various home divisions: 

  • Plumbing Products` net sales increased 10%, fueled by strong performance in North America and internationally;
  • Decorative Architectural Products` net sales increased 11%, driven by growth in core products and new programs;
  • North American Cabinetry`s sales increased 13%, and operating margins improved;
  • Installation and Other Services achieved profitability for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2008; and
  • Other Specialty Products` net sales increased 6% and segment margins expanded, reflecting share gains and profit improvement initiatives. 

For the full year, the company’s net sales increased 4.4% to $7.7 billion. The company posted a net loss of $114 million, compared with a net loss of $575 million in the same quarter last year. 

The company also said that in early February, it determined that its Danish ready-to-assemble cabinet business is not core to its long-term growth strategy. Masco plans to dispose of the business unit, which had sales of approximately $250 million in 2012.

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Whirlpool, Habitat build hope in Benton Harbor

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Whirlpool and Harbor Habitat for Humanity have completed construction on the homes built in partnership with Tynisha Murphy and the Patterson family, dedicating the homes in a ceremony that took place Dec. 8. The builds took place on side-by-side lots in the Harbor Shores community of Benton Harbor.

"We couldn’t be happier about our long-standing partnership with Whirlpool Corporation," said Erin Hudson, executive director of Harbor Habitat for Humanity. "The dedication of the company and its tireless volunteers has truly made a difference in our community and in communities across the country."

Through this build, and the volunteer hours the family put in, Patrick and Brunetta Patterson have achieved their goal of home ownership — improving the living situation for their three daughters and two grandchildren. The Pattersons, who are actively involved in their local church, Our Center for Better Living, never believed that would be possible.

"We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to become homeowners," said Patrick Patterson. "It has been an absolute pleasure to work side-by-side with these volunteers. Without Habitat for Humanity and Whirlpool, our dream never would have become a reality."

The build is part of Whirlpool-sponsored Habitat builds that took place throughout the United States in 2012.  Whirlpool also sponsored homes in Amana, Iowa, Clyde, Ohio and at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

Whirlpool has been a partner of Habitat for Humanity International for 12 years, supporting Habitat’s work in 240 countries and sponsoring more than 100 homes since the partnership began in 1999. In that time, the company has donated a range and Energy Star-qualified refrigerator to every Habitat home in the United States and Canada, totaling more than 140,000 appliances. Whirlpool also supports and participates in the annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project and is the first corporation to provide on-going donations to Habitat for Humanity ReStore resale outlets, helping to raise an additional $4.6 million for the organization.

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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Feb. 8, 2013

*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.

Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report.

Lumber: SPF prices increased early and continued to rise throughout the week. Distributors replenished inventories and wholesalers purchased significant speculative volumes. Up-limit moves in futures early delivered more confidence to the cash market. A short-lived downturn in Southern Pine lumber prices came to a halt last Friday and continued throughout this week. Tuesday was a huge sales day for mills, with some setting records for volumes sold. Treaters purchased multiple carload volumes and continued to shop the market late in the week. Coastal species lumber producers sold strong volumes, allowing them to push prices often beyond multi-year highs established in January. Needing to supplement inventories, buyers gave up trying to wait for prices to drop further. The Inland species lumber market continued to rebound from last week’s momentary softness. Producers reported good activity in Hem-Fir narrows. Radiata Pine prices were firm and offerings were limited, especially in Shop grades. Although Ponderosa Pine Moulding and Shop markets appeared a little more active, the general opinion was that the movement was as much supply driven as it was improved demand. Prices were firm but unchanged. Ponderosa Pine board producers reported a "substantially better market" for Selects and Commons than they have seen in recent times. Producers also reported steady sales of Idaho White Pine and ESLP. Eastern White Pine producers reported firm pricing and good demand for all widths of Standard and Industrial grades. With inventories at Western Red Cedar mills tight and buyers still willing to participate at current price levels, producers continued to contemplate raising prices further.

Panels: OSB markets started the week with a quiet but firm tone. On Wednesday that all changed, as market activity picked up strongly. So much, in fact, the resurgence in business caught many traders off guard. Wholesalers and distributors purchased large volumes of Southern Pine plywood beginning Wednesday, helping drive prices higher. Most producers extended order files to at least the week of February 25. Strong sales throughout the week in the Western Fir plywood market strengthened mill order files and placed upward pressure on a number of prices. Yards from several regions participated in buying, including the Northeast. Canadian plywood activity saw order files from the major producers out to the week of March 11 or March 18, depending on the item. Quotes and sales of plus 2 or 3 points for cash wood occurred, while orders were taken early in the week at less 2 points. Particleboard sales remained steady, leaving no room for any upward price movement. MDF continued its strong showing. Customers remained on allocation. Moulding manufacturers eagerly accepted their allotted volumes and searched for any other they might find.

For more on RISI, click here.

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