LUMBERYARDS

Q4 sales rise 31% at Builders FirstSource

BY Brae Canlen

Dallas-based pro dealer Builders FirstSource reported sales of $192.7 million for its fourth fiscal quarter, an increase of 31.0% from sales of $147.1 million in the fourth quarter a year ago. The company estimated that sales increased approximately 29% due to increased sales volume and 2% due to price. 

Net loss for the quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2011, was $16.7 million, compared with $24.6 million in the corresponding period a year ago.

Commenting on the quarter, Builders FirstSource CEO Floyd Sherman said: “We accomplished this substantial sales increase despite actual U.S. single-family starts increasing only 4.7%, the average number of U.S. single-family units under construction decreasing 10.7%, and average commodity prices being relatively flat during the quarter.”

For fiscal year 2011, the southeastern LBM chain ended the year with sales of $779.1 million, up 11.2% over fiscal year 2010 sales of $700.3 million. 

Net loss for 2011 was $65 million, compared with $95.5 million in 2010.

“We continue to open a significant number of new accounts and increase our sales with the national builders,” Sherman continued. “In addition, our improved liquidity made possible by our new term loan enabled us to take advantage of opportunistic inventory buys toward the end of the year. Our strong inventory position at year-end should allow us to cover our customer requirements in the first quarter of 2012, and also give our sales force the flexibility to continue to pursue new sales opportunities.

“Though 2011 presented us with the fewest number of U.S. single-family housing starts since this downturn began, we significantly improved our results through the continued execution of our strategy, which focuses on pricing discipline, cost containment, preserving liquidity and providing superior customer service,” he added. “I believe that through the dedication and sacrifices of our employees, we have positioned Builders FirstSource to outperform the competition and take full advantage of the expected housing recovery in our markets. I am truly excited about the future of our company, and am ever-grateful for our employees, customers and vendors that have partnered with us during these trying times.”

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Housing starts show signs of life

BY Ken Clark

Residential construction in January was healthier than expected.

Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 699,000, up 1.5% from 689,000 in December, according to data released Thursday morning by the Department of Commerce. But more encouraging: The January rate is up 9.9% from the same month a year ago.

Most analysts were looking for a figure anywhere from 645,000 to 671,000 for the month of January.

Flirting with the 700,000 mark is a good sign for the housing industry and those that supply it with products. Starts were at a pace of 702,000 in November 2011; but one has to look back more than three years for another example — starts were at 777,000 in October 2008.

In the single-family column, housing starts were at a rate of 508,000, actually down 1.0% from December 2011, but up 16.2% from January’s figure last year. 

Building permits offered a similar story of steady improvement. Permits were at a rate of 676,000 for January, 0.7% above December and 19.0% above the January 2011 figure. 

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Annual sales rise at Owens Corning

BY Brae Canlen

Building products manufacturer Owens Corning reported net sales of $5.3 billion for fiscal year 2011, a 7% increase from net sales of $5.0 billion in 2010.

Net earnings for the year were $276 million, compared with net earnings of $933 million in 2010.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, the company reported $1.2 billion in sales, compared with $1.16 billion in the same quarter of 2010. Net earnings for the fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2011, were $50 million, compared with a $110 million loss in the same quarter of 2010.

“Owens Corning delivered another outstanding year in 2011. We achieved growth in revenue and EBIT in all of our businesses amid challenging market conditions,” said chairman and CEO Mike Thaman.

“Looking forward to 2012, we anticipate improved housing starts in the U.S. and modest growth in the global economy,” Thaman added. “Strong performance from our building materials segment will more than offset the impact of near-term market challenges in our composites segment, resulting in growth in adjusted EBIT and strong cash performance for Owens Corning.”

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