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Myers Industries now sole owner of Amerikan container brand

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Myers Industries, an Akron, Ohio-based manufacturer of polymer products for industrial, agricultural, automotive, commercial and consumer markets, now owns all of Amerikan, a Sebring, Fla.-based company that makes nursery containers from recycled plastics.

Myers Industries, which purchased a 50% interest in Amerikan in 2007, has bought the remaining 50% from Florikan, a producer of environmentally friendly agriculture products. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Amerikan brand will be integrated into the Myers Industries Lawn & Garden Group, which is headquartered in Middlefield, Ohio, and also represents the horticultural container brands of Listo, Dillen, ProCal, ITML, Akro-Mils Lawn & Garden and PlantersO Pride.

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Readers respond: Starts and recovery

BY HBSDEALER Staff

This week’s Commerce Department data showed another uptick in single- family housing starts — the fifth such increase in five months. But as a recent Time.com article pointed out, that might not be conducive to a healthy housing industry.

“Rampant building” was one of the causes of the bubble, according to the article’s author, and there’s still a huge supply of unsold homes. The numbers raise the question: Does the market need a little more time to recover? Here’s what our readers said:

“I’m still playing this very cautiously. I realized that home sales are starting to pick up a tad, but they’re still at all-time lows.  Despite that, I think builders are trying to have some homes on hand to drive sales through this fall because really, if a person hasn’t found a house by September/October, it’s going to be hard to close by the Dec. 1 deadline to use the tax credit. As a result, there goes financing.

“I’m extremely concerned that once the credit is gone, buyers will slow, and I feel the Fed meeting, while they might not raise rates now, are likely to explain the need to pull up the rates much faster than anticipated. Typically you would see a rate hike after unemployment peaks; well, we just had 9.4% [unemployment], down from 9.5%. If that was the peak, a rate hike is soon [possible]. As a result, home building could have a great deal of downward pressure.

“On top of that is the foreclosure issue. Quite frankly, even though we might still lose jobs, unemployment will remain high for awhile, putting additional stresses on consumer spending and debt payments. Foreclosures will continue to rise, and default rates on credit cards and other loans, while they are being paid off, are likely to see still high default rates. All this means is additional downward pressure on home prices with extra inventory and additional credit constraints for banks, keeping lending difficult. All pressure, minus a few cutesy numbers due to the slowing down of the decline, is still deflationary. There’s more risk than people see, and it doesn’t take much to hurt the economy. I agree with Bernanke on the need to keep rates low, but I believe politics will ultimately force him to make an error in judgment to keep his job, and as a result, the economy could worsen.”

— Kevin A. Crosby Economic research analyst Masco Corp.

 

 

 

“While expensive homes still sit on the inventories of people like Toll Brothers, in the market where I have a retail [store], if you can build and make a profit on houses in the $125K to $140K [range], you can sell them as completed. Reason is that the down payment is within middle income reach. I just bought a house that was 17 months old, on the market for $310K finally down to $230K, and I paid $197K at the end. This is where the upper end houses are. No sales unless they are given away.

“If the government wants housing to restart, they will need to give any home buyer a credit, in my opinion to the tune of about $10K, if they buy any home less than three years old. This would also open up some older homes for first-time buyers.

“The government should allow people with college loan debt, aka student loans, to roll that loan into a home loan. This would put money back into the market and allow more home sales.

“Finally, the government needs to step in and lower credit scores on major purchases. Take the base back to 550 to 575 and back the loan for a period of time. Act as a limited time co-signer.”

— Willie Hudson Mineral Wells Hardware and Rental Mineral Wells, Texas

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Toro Q3 earnings, sales down

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bloomington, Minn.-based Toro has reported third-quarter net earnings of $19.8 million, down 48% from net earnings of $38.2 million in the year-ago period.

Net sales for the quarter totaled $394.9 million, down 20% from sales of $492.6 million in the third quarter of 2008.

“Despite a persistently difficult economic environment, we’ve been able to offset some of the impact through aggressive and disciplined actions,” said Michael Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and CEO. “We are focused on driving retail demand and have improved our market share in many product categories.”

Year to date, Toro reported net earnings of $63.4 million, down 47% from $119.6 million in the comparable 2008 period. Net sales were $1,234.9 million, down 56% from $1,536.9 million in the first nine months of 2008.

The company’s professional segment had third-quarter net sales of $260.9 million, down 27.3% from the year-ago period. Residential segment net sales totaled $126.2 million, up 1.2% from the third quarter of 2008.

Toro recently created Red Iron Acceptance, a new joint venture with an indirect subsidiary of TCF Financial Corp., to provide additional resources. The new commercial finance entity will provide floor plan and open account financing for the company’s U.S. and select Canadian channel partners.

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