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Sales flat at Masco

BY Ken Clark

Masco Corp. reported net sales of $7.46 billion for fiscal 2011, relatively flat compared with sales of $7.48 billion in 2010. North American sales decreased 3% and international sales increased 8% compared with 2010, the company said. In local currencies, international sales increased 3% compared with 2010.

The Taylor, Mich., corporation posted a net loss of $575 million for its 2011 fiscal year, compared with $1.04 billion during fiscal 2010.

During the fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2011, net sales registered $1.73 billion, compared with $1.71 billion during the same quarter a year ago. Net loss for the fourth quarter of 2011 was $573 million, compared with $1.03 billion during the fourth quarter of 2010.

"Our performance in 2011 was challenged by commodity cost volatility, a competitive retail environment, a flat housing environment in North America and difficult economic conditions in Europe" said Masco’s president and CEO, Tim Wadhams. "Despite these headwinds, we continued to strengthen our leading brand positions, including the introduction of new products and programs; improve our cost structure and productivity; invest in future growth opportunities; and improve our working capital management."

Wadhams said the company was entering into 2012 with “cautious optimism.”

“The major restructuring activities impacting our installation segment and our North American cabinet operations are behind us, and those businesses experienced improving operational trends in the fourth quarter. While our efforts to reduce costs and increase revenues did not improve performance as quickly as we anticipated in 2011, we firmly believe that these actions will drive significant improvement in 2012, even if we see no improvement in the housing markets. In cabinetry, we have taken significant actions to drive improvement both in North America and Europe, but do remain concerned about general economic conditions in the U.K. and Europe," Wadhams said.

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Report: Lowe’s offers buyouts at N.C. call centers

BY HBSDealer Staff

Lowe’s is notifying approximately 5,200 western North Carolina customer-service employees that they could be eligible for a buyout as part of a staff reduction initiative, according to an article in the Triangle Business Journal. 

Workers affected are located at both the Mooresville headquarters and a North Wilkesboro center that once housed the company’s headquarters, the newspaper reported. 

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Sales holding steady in January

BY Ken Clark

Advance monthly retail sales for January increased 0.4% to $401.4 billion, according to data released this morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The January 2012 figure, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, is up 5.8% compared with the sales estimate from January 2011.

Also on an adjusted basis, the NAICS classification 444 — building material & garden equipment and supplies dealers — showed a 0.2% increase over December 2011, and an 8.1% increase compared with January 2011.  The latest NAICS 444 figure was estimated at $26.1 billion.

The National Retail Federation saw the bright side of the data. “Thanks to a combination of unseasonably warm weather across much of the country and millions of shoppers with gift cards burning holes in their pockets, retailers are still riding the tailwinds of consumers’ spending power,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “As a traditionally slower sales month for the industry, it’s encouraging to see such sustained growth in consumer spending and sentiment.”

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