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Report: Retail imports to increase 8.5% in February

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A report released Friday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates estimated that retail imports will increase 8.5% in February, after a contract deal between the East Coast and Gulf Coast dockworkers is finalized.

The monthly Global Port Tracker report said that, had a key West Coast agreement also been settled, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports would possibly have seen an additional rise. 

“We were very happy to see a deal on a tentative contract for the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports but we are urging the parties to quickly work out any outstanding issues and ratify the agreement as soon as possible,” said NRF VP supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold. “We were disappointed that the LA/Long Beach clerical workers’ contract wasn’t ratified, but are encouraging the parties to work through their differences without a disruption.”

The International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance reached tentative agreement February 1 on a contract that avoided a strike that could have shut down East Coast and Gulf Coast ports from Maine to Texas. The agreement is subject to reaching supplemental local agreements and ratification by union members. Last Wednesday, however, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Local 63 Office Clerical Unit voted down a tentative agreement with the Harbor Employers Association that ended an eight-day strike at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in November and December 2012.

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.32 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in December, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 2.8% from November and up 8% from December 2011. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent. The numbers for December brought 2012 to a total of 15.8 million TEU, up 2.9% from 2011. January was estimated at 1.34 million TEU, up 4.6% from January 2012. 

February is forecast at 1.18 million TEU, up 8.5% from last year; March at 1.29 million TEU, up 3.6%; April at 1.36 million TEU, up 4.4%, May at 1.45 million TEU, up 6.2%, and June at 1.45 million TEU, up 4.9%. The six months of data projections for 2013 should bring the first half of the year to 8.1 million TEU, up 5.3% from the first half of 2012.

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At Valspar, Q1 sales and earnings slip

BY Ken Clark

Weaker-than-anticipated international markets help put a damper on Valspar’s first-quarter performance. 

The Minneapolis-based paint giant saw sales decline to $875.2 million in the quarter, down from $885.6 million in the same quarter last year. Net income declined to $55.0 million, compared with $55.8 million. 

“Although we made substantial progress this quarter on a number of key initiatives, international markets were weaker than anticipated,” said Gary Hendrickson, chairman and CEO. “We continued to invest in our long-term opportunities and remain confident we will achieve our new business plans for the full year. However, weak demand in certain international markets is expected to continue." 

The company adjusted downward its full-year guidance to $3.60 to $3.80 to reflecting the market conditions. 

Valspar recently announced a long-term deal with Ace Hardware. Under the deal, Valspar will manufacture and supply Ace-branded paint products to Ace dealers. The companies also announced that Valspar has acquired Ace Hardware’s paint manufacturing assets, including two manufacturing facilities located near Chicago. 

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Concert raises $2.4 million for wounded soldiers

BY Ken Clark

A Kix Brooks concert event for Operation Finally Home hosted at the Las Vegas House of Blues by American Country Countdown and manufacturer LP Building Products rallied building industry attendees to commit an estimated $2.4 million toward homes for wounded soldiers. The concert was held during the International Builders’ Show. 

During the event, eight builders from around the nation representing cities such as Nashville, Tenn.; Amarillo, Texas; and Charlotte, N.C., pledged to join Operation Finally Home in their mission to provide mortgage-free homes for wounded soldiers across the United States. American Country Countdown and LP Building Products recently announced plans to support Operation Finally Home in the construction of homes for six wounded veterans in the next two years. Pledged support from eight builders will allow for further expansion of these plans. 

“The sense of community in our industry has always set us apart. I’ve never seen it more evident than when I watched these builders come forward to offer their time and resources in order to provide homes for our nation’s veterans,” said Rick Olszewski, executive VP specialty products, sales and marketing. “LP Building Products is honored to be a part of an effort bringing together so many companies and people across the industry in support of these wounded heroes.” 

The first American Country Countdown/LP Building Products-sponsored home will be built in Las Vegas for wounded soldier Army Cpl. Christopher Bales, a Purple Heart recipient who served two tours of duty — in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and in Afghanistan in 2010. 

Born out of the Bay Area Builders Association Support Our Troops effort, Operation FInally Home was founded by Dan Wallrath in 2005. Daniel Vargas, a retired U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant, runs the organization out of New Braunfels, Texas. The program provides custom-made homes to wounded and disabled veterans as well as to widows of the fallen to help them get their lives back on track.

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