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Newell Rubbermaid names new vp

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Housewares maker Newell Rubbermaid has named Nancy O’Donnell as the company’s new vp-investor relations, replacing Ron Hardnock, who has been named group vp-finance for the company’s tools and hardware division.

“Nancy joins our team in a key role as we continue to communicate the milestones of our transformation into a consumer-driven branding company,” commented J. Patrick Robinson, executive vp and CFO of Newell Rubbermaid, in a statement.

O’Donnell joins Newell Rubbermaid with more than 20 years of experience in finance and communications, including 10 years of direct investor relations experience. Most recently, she served as vp-investor relations and corporate communications at consumer products manufacturer Spectrum Brands.

Newell Rubbermaid is a global marketer of consumer and commercial products with sales of approximately $6 billion last year.

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Home Depot makes $30 million pledge to Habitat for Humanity

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home Depot has announced a five-year, $30 million donation to Habitat for Humanity, part of a national green building initiative through the retailer’s Partners in Sustainable Building. The program will provide funding and resources with the aim of building 5,000 “energy-efficient and sustainable homes” by Habitat for Humanity affiliates.

The $30 million pledge includes financial, in-kind support, technical resources and training costs to “establish a foundation of green building expertise that will impact Habitat builds for years to come.” Green certification will be determined by third-party, nationally recognized groups that provide green building standards, and the funding will help Habitat affiliates secure verification in their respective regions. In addition to energy efficiency, the homes will also be rated for indoor air quality and water conservation standards.

The Home Depot Foundation’s Partners in Sustainable Building program will provide energy-efficient and sustainable building resources for approximately 17 percent of all single- and multi-family homes built by Habitat for Humanity over the next five years, according to the company.

“Our organization supports the construction of homes for families that are healthy to live in and affordable to own,” said Kelly Caffarelli, president of the Home Depot Foundation. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Habitat to create additional opportunities for thousands of families of modest means to experience the economic and health benefits of green building practices. We believe that the impact of this program will be far-reaching and will add to the long-term success of families and communities across the country.”

Green building has been the hottest topic of late in the construction industry, as highlighted at February’s International Builders’ Show, which saw the unveiling of a new green building initiative by the National Association of Home Builders.

The Home Depot/Habitat partnership will kick off with a one-year pilot program, including approximately 30 Habitat affiliates in a variety of climates and in rural and urban areas, “to best gauge the impact of the program,” the company said.

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Existing-home sales show gains in February

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Existing-home sales, including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 2.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million units in February from a pace of 4.89 million in January, according to the National Association of Realtors, a “notable gain” after several months of dropping numbers.

Sales remained 23.8 percent below the 6.60 million-unit level in February 2007.

“We’re not expecting a notable gain in existing-home sales until the second half of this year, but the improvement is another sign that the market is stabilizing,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 11.3 percent to an annual pace of 890,000, but are 26.4 percent below February 2007. In the Midwest, sales rose 2.5 percent to a level of 1.24 million, but are 19.5 percent below a year ago. In the South, sales increased 2.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.99 million, a 22 percent decline from February 2007. And in the West, sales slipped 1.1 percent to an annual rate of 920,000, 29.2 percent below a year ago.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $195,900 in February, down 8.2 percent from a year earlier when the median was $213,500.

Half of the metro areas in the United States experienced price increases, with healthy gains in markets like Oklahoma City and Trenton, N.J. In other areas, such as Sacramento, a rapid price decline has induced buyers to come into the market, and sales are now rising, Yun said.

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