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Pulte Homes loss widens in fourth quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based home builder Pulte Homes posted a loss of $874.7 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2007, compared to a loss of $8.4 million in the same quarter last year. For the full year, the company swung to a loss of $2.25 billion, compared to earnings of $687 million in 2006.

“The challenging market conditions that plagued the home-building industry for the first nine months of 2007 worsened in the fourth quarter,” said Richard J. Dugas, Jr., president and CEO of Pulte Homes. “Levels of new and existing-home inventory remain elevated, buyer demand for new homes continues to be weak and mortgage availability is still a problem for many prospective home buyers.”

The company also showed net sales of $2.9 billion for the fourth quarter of last year, down 34 percent from the same quarter of 2006 of $4.4 billion.

Net sales for the year were $9.3 billion, down 35 percent from $14.3 billion for 2006.

The company closed 8,714 homes in the fourth quarter, down 31 percent from the same quarter last year, with average sales price per home at $319,000, down 6 percent from the fourth quarter last year.

New orders for the quarter were 4,562, down 29 percent from the fourth quarter in 2006. The company also projects a first-quarter net loss of 15 cents to 30 cents per share.

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Wal-Mart implements packaging ‘scorecard’

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bentonville Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores will begin using a new packaging “scorecard” for suppliers today in an effort to track suppliers’ “progress towards using sustainable packaging.”

The program was first introduced by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2006 and was put through a trial phase last year. The company said it hopes the new scorecard will help it reach a goal of using 5 percent less packaging by 2013.

“The packaging scorecard helps everyone make better decisions that are good for business, our customers and the environment,” explained Matt Kistler, senior vp-sustainability at Wal-Mart. “It’s important to us that our suppliers see the intrinsic value behind sustainability, both for their business and the environment.”

As of Jan. 30, the company had more than 97,000 items entered into its scorecard by more than 6,000 vendors.

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Home Depot lays off 10 percent of staff at headquarters

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home Depot has announced layoffs of about 500 employees at its Atlanta-based headquarters — 10 percent of the staff there, according to the company.

The reductions were from departments “across the organization and touching every functional area,” Home Depot spokesperson Ron DeFeo told HCN.

“We’re clearly operating in a tough business environment,” DeFeo said. “We started talking about that in 2007, and we were very honest in saying we expected to see this continuing into 2008 (in recent financial statements). We have a firm commitment in investing in our stores. In order to do that, we need to make some changes.”

The layoffs were only at the company’s headquarters and do not affect distribution centers or stores. The laid-off workers will receive pay for 60 days, the company said.

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