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S&P raises Home Depot’s credit rating

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Citing improved performance, Standard & Poor’s announced Tuesday that it is raising its corporate credit rating for Home Depot from "A-" to "A".

Additionally, the credit ratings agency upped its short-term ratings from "A-2" to "A-1". These increasingly investment-grade ratings point to confidence in the company’s ability to meet its financial commitments, with a stable outlook on the ratings.

"The company’s financial policies, strong cash flow generating capability, and credit protection measures also support the ratings, even though the company used the bulk of its cash flow to repurchase shares," S&P credit analyst Andy Sookram told the Wall Street Journal.

Home Depot’s sunny outlook is largely thanks to a recovering housing market, which has helped buoy consumer activity in the home improvement sector.

The retailer’s most recent quarterly report demonstrated net income rising 17%, with sales rising 9% to $22.52 billion.

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Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostats help homeowners connect with utilities

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Honeywell has announced that its full line of Wi-Fi thermostats will enable homeowners to connect with their utility and receive incentives for cutting down on electricity use. 

"The same technology people purchase today to lower their heating bills can pay extra dividends in the summer months," said Tony Uttley, general manager of Home Comfort and Energy Systems at Honeywell. "Honeywell can easily link homeowners to these additional savings."

Here’s how the incentives work. During the summer, when air conditioners and power plants are running at max capacity, utilities will look to reduce energy use to ease stress on the electrical grid. To do this, they may compensate customers who are willing to raise the temperature in their homes a couple degrees, for a couple hours. These programs, also known as demand response, help keep the power flowing and lights on during heat waves.

In return for raising the temperature, customers can get rebates for installing hardware like a Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat and connecting to a utility program, along with other rewards, including bill credits for energy saved when the grid is congested. Homeowners retain control and interaction with the utility is fully automated.

The ability to participate in energy-savings events has been added to the Honeywell Wi-Fi 7-Day Touchscreen Thermostat. By early 2014, all of Honeywell’s Wi-Fi thermostats, including the Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, will be able to integrate with utility programs. A firmware upgrade will be available for existing thermostats.

Homeowners can control these devices using Total Connect Comfort, the thermostat app on iTunes and Google Play. Honeywell recently updated the app so customers who join utility programs receive alerts on their smartphones or tablets whenever an energy-savings event is scheduled.

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Family Farm & Home joins True Value

BY HBSDEALER Staff

True Value Co. announced the addition of its newest affiliate member, Family Farm & Home.

Headquartered in Muskegon, Mich., with a warehouse in Grand Rapids, Mich., the chain will bring its wholesale buying for 27 existing stores in Michigan and Indiana to the co-op, effective Nov. 1.

Since the Fansler family opened the first Family Farm & Home store in 2002, the company has opened more than two dozen stores across Michigan and two in neighboring Indiana. Plans for the family-owned business include a continued focus on organic growth from their current operations, while exploring new growth opportunities with additional locations. A new store is set to open in Cadillac, Mich., before the end of November 2013. 

“We chose True Value Co. as our wholesaler for the co-op’s solid financial position, hardware product selection, logistics and support, and True Value’s increasingly popular farm, ranch, automotive and pet categories,” said Tim Fansler, VP merchandising for Family Farm & Home.

While the co-op’s affiliates operate independently under their own retail identity, Family Farm & Home will benefit from True Value’s wholesale buying power, and an annual patronage dividend. True Value has seen its sales to affiliate members grow by 4% to 6% each year for the past several years. 

“The addition of Family Farm & Home to our affiliate program increases the buying power of the co-op, and we are looking forward to growing along with them,” said True Value president and CEO John Hartmann.    

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