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Scotts Miracle-Gro names new senior vps

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Scotts Miracle-Gro has promoted Jeff Garascia, Ph.D., and Pete Supron to senior vp positions.

As senior vp-global research and development, Garascia will oversee the company’s research and development organization, with responsibilities for global portfolio management and global quality assurance. He joined the company in 2005 and has held positions with Smith & Hawken and Supply Chain Strategy integration. Previously, he was with Booz Allen Hamilton and General Motors.

Supron will direct purchasing for the entire Scotts Miracle-Gro organization as senior vp-global purchasing. He joined the company in 1998 and has served in planning and corporate development and finance. Previously, Supron was with Cooper Industries in strategic planning.

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Toll Brothers reports Q4 and full year losses

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Toll Brothers, one of the nation’s largest home builders with a specialty in luxury homes, reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $78.8 million, compared to a net loss of $81.8 million in the year-ago period. The company’s full fiscal year, which ended Oct. 31, 2008, saw a net loss of $297.8 million, compared to net income of $35.7 million for 2007’s full-year.

“Obviously there are enormous challenges in our industry. But we believe the financial strength of our organization will put us in a good position to take advantage of opportunities … that we expect will arise from the industry’s current distress,” said Robert I. Toll, chairman and CEO.

“We are beginning to see some deals that are appealing in terms of quality but not price: We believe our strong capital position will give us an advantage in competing for them at the appropriate time,” he added.

In addition, fourth-quarter revenues were $698.9 million, down 40 percent from revenues of $1.17 billion in the same period last year. Twelve-month revenues were $3.16 billion, down 32 percent from 2007’s twelve-month revenues of $4.65 billion.

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Toro breaks even in Q4

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Toro reported break-even net earnings of $13,000 on net sales of $341 million for the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31, compared to net earnings of $6.5 million on net sales of $332.5 million in the same period last year.

Net earnings in the fourth quarter were reduced by a pre-tax charge of $4.7 million, or $0.08 per share, on an after-tax basis. The charge was taken in its fiscal fourth quarter to account for work force adjustments, the company reported.

For the full year, the Bloomington, Minn.-based company reported a decline of 15.9 percent on net earnings of $119.7 million, or $3.10 per share, compared to $142.4 million, or $3.40 per share, in 2007. Net sales were flat at $1,878.2 million, compared to $1,876.9 million last year.

At the same time, international sales grew 12 percent to offset weakness in domestic business. Toro also generated a record $216 million in cash flow for fiscal 2008 — $32 million more than the previous year — and returned $133 million to shareholders through dividend payments and share repurchases.

Entering the new fiscal year, the company says its liquidity position is solid, as indicated by a strong cash balance and supporting committed credit facilities. “While our revenue growth was impacted for the year due to persistently difficult domestic market conditions, Toro and field inventories are down significantly and should benefit us in the coming year,” said Michael J. Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and CEO.

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