Sales rise at Temple-Inland
Wood products producer Temple-Inland reported sales of $174 million in the building products division during its first fiscal quarter of 2011, a 13.7% rise over sales of $153 million during the same quarter of 2010.
Net loss for the division was $6 million during the first quarter, narrowing from a $9 million loss in the first fiscal quarter of 2010 and a $15 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The year-over-year improvement was credited to higher volumes and lower unit costs, which more than offset lower lumber prices, according to a company statement. Improvements in the building products operating results during the first quarter of 2011 compared with the fourth quarter of 2010 were due to higher lumber prices and seasonally higher volumes for all products.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Temple-Inland produces lumber, gypsum board, particleboard, Medium Density Fiberboard, fiberboard and other building products, in addition to paper and packaging products.
March sees increase in existing-home sales
Existing-home sales in March increased 3.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.10 million, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported this morning.
February’s sales estimate was revised upwards from 4.88 million to 4.92 million. March’s estimate is 6.3% below March 2010, when existing-home sales were at a pace of 5.44 million.
The month-to-month increase is a pattern the NAR expects to continue. “Existing-home sales have risen in six of the past eight months, so we’re clearly on a recovery path,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “With rising jobs and excellent affordability conditions, we project moderate improvements into 2012, but not every month will show a gain — primarily because some buyers are finding it too difficult to obtain a mortgage. For those fortunate enough to qualify for financing, monthly mortgage payments as a percent of income have been at record lows.”
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $159,600 in March, down 5.9% from March 2010. Distressed homes — typically sold at discounts in the vicinity of 20% — accounted for a 40% market share in March, up from 39% in February and 35% in March 2010.
“Although home sales are coming back without a federal stimulus, sales would be notably stronger if mortgage lending would return to the normal, safe standards that were in place a decade ago — before the loose lending practices that created the unprecedented boom and bust cycle,” Yun said.
Housing starts stuck under 550,000
The Department of Commerce’s residential construction report released today shows both total starts and single-family starts for March are up over February, but way down compared with March 2010.
March housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 549,000, up 7.2% from February, but down 13.4% from the same month last year.
Single-family starts were reported at a pace of 422,000, up 7.7% compared with February, but down 21.1% compared with March 2010.
On an unadjusted basis, there were an estimated 45,900 total housing starts in March.
Also on an unadjusted basis, the first three months of 2011 have yielded 121,000 housing starts, compared with 134,300 in the first three months of 2010. With the first quarter of 2011 running at a 9.9% decrease, early forecasts of a 20% gain in 2011 housing starts look increasingly bullish. And to add perspective to the numbers: March 2011 was the second slowest March on record — only March 2009, with its pace of 520,000 starts, was slower in terms of residential construction.
Building permits were up 2.6% to a March rate of 594,000. But this seasonally adjusted annual rate was also down double digits — 13.3% — from the March 2010 estimate.