Pulte reports a heavy loss in the first quarter
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Pulte Homes reported a net loss of $696.1 million for the first quarter, wider losses than the $85.7 million recorded in last year’s first quarter.
The first-quarter loss included $663.6 million of pre-tax charges related to inventory impairments and other land-related charges.
Total revenues, including home-building and finacial services revenues, fell 23 percent to $1.4 billion from $1.9 billion in the prior year’s quarter.
“The difficult housing environment continued to erode during the first quarter of 2008,” explained Richard Dugas Jr., president and CEO of Pulte Homes. “Buyer demand for new homes continues to be soft, home prices remain under pressure and overall buyer confidence is weak. Despite these market challenges, Pulte continues to make progress on its cash position, selling homes and reducing its cost structure.”
There were 5,402 net new home orders, valued at $1.5 billion, down 36 percent and 50 percent, respectively, from the prior year’s first-quarter results.
Pulte Homes operates in 51 markets and 26 states.
Hardware Technology Forum focuses on EDI, data synch
Memphis, Tenn. While data synchronization has become the new reality for many manufacturers, this year’s Hardlines Technology Forum (HTF) did not overlook Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the backbone of ordering and billing between retailers and their suppliers. Sessions looked at EDI’s increased use in transportation, the roles played by various EDI documents, and in today’s final presentation, the changing nature of the EDI coordinator’s job.
EDI also surfaced during the Retail Panel, a conference highlight where retailers and distributors discuss their upcoming IT initiatives. There were no major announcements this year, however, as the buyers in the home channel seem to have their hands full with projects they’ve already started.
Approximately 225 people attended the four-day conference, held April 21 to 24 at the Peabody Hotel. Technology vendors peddled everything from EDI outsourcing to data encryption to help with U.S. Customs requirements.
During the two-hour Retail Panel, representatives from Orgill, Lowe’s, Do it Best and True Value answered pre-submitted questions from the audience. Some of the inquiries sounded like repeats from the previous day’s “Seller’s Forum,” where vendors complained about fines and “scorecards” that give them little feedback on what they’re doing wrong.
Brett Hammers, vp-marketing for Orgill, said his organization prefers to works one-on-one with problem vendors. “We don’t just put information out there,” he said. “It’s in our best interest to handle [feedback] strategically rather than globally.”
Greg Linder, director of supply chain operations for True Value, spoke of a visible supply chain solution the co-op is rolling out, through Sterling Commerce, that will result in more consistent lead times for incoming products. True Value is not planning to implement data synchronization anytime soon, he said, adding: “You can synch all the data in the world, but it’s [data] accuracy that keeps us up at night.”
Lowe’s, on the other hand, implemented data synchronization with most of its vendors and has moved on to a marketing data pool initiative. Last year the North Carolina retailer began collecting images and data for Lowes.com and in-store use through Big Hammer, a division of EdgeNet. The retailer is doing the project in phases, with the three categories, lumber, rough electrical and rough plumbing, set to be completed by the end of 2008.
Sales down at Lennox International
HVAC manufacturer Lennox International said earnings fell 26.7 percent in the first quarter, to $6.3 million from $8.6 million in the same period last year. Sales also fell, down 3 percent to $767.1 million from $791.5 million in the first quarter of 2007.
Like many other manufacturers of building materials and other large purchase items, Lennox’s earnings suffered from softness in the housing sector.
“As expected, difficult residential new construction and replacement markets challenged our first-quarter results,” said Todd Bluedorn, CEO of Lennox International. “Disciplined cost reductions, combined with strong performance in our North America Commercial and Refrigeration businesses, helped offset the headwinds.
Bluedorn also said the company is revising its projected full-year revenue expectations because of the downturn in the housing market. The company expects revenue to stay flat compared with last year or rise by up to 2 percent. Initial projections pegged year-end revenue growth of 2 percent to 5 percent.
Of its four business segments, the company saw revenue growth in commercial heating and cooling — up 2 percent — and refrigeration. Revenue from installed services and residential heating and cooling fell in the quarter.