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Spectrum Brands plans to exit fertilizer category

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Spectrum Brands, a leading manufacturer of lawn and garden products, pest control products, pet supplies and other consumer goods, will stop making fertilizer and several other products in its Home & Garden Business segment in an effort to stem losses. The Atlanta firm announced the decision as part of its fourth-quarter 2008 results, which posted a net loss of $492.6 million, compared to a loss of $333 million for the same quarter of 2007.

Sales for the quarter, which ended Sept. 30, 2008, were $706.5 million, a 7.2 percent increase over the prior year, after excluding the Canadian division of the Home & Garden Business segment, which the company sold in November 2007.

Year-end figures showed a loss of $931.6 million for 2008, compared to losses of $596.8 million in fiscal 2007. Annual sales for fiscal 2008 were $2.68 billion, a 4.8 percent rise over fiscal year 2007 sales of $2.56 billion.

In a prepared statement, the company said it decided to exit the manufacture of fertilizer, potting soil, mulch and grass seed because they had become “a drag on profitability.” The sluggish housing market, tight inventories at retailers, low levels of foot traffic and unprecedented commodity costs — particularly DAP and potash — all worked against the company’s efforts to boost margins, it said. Spectrum also tried to sell this segment of the business, in part or whole, but failed. “The company believes these attempts were unsuccessful due to the current credit market environment,” Spectrum said in its statement.

Spectrum also has exclusive private-label manufacturing agreements with national retail chains, including the Vigoro brand at Home Depot, Sta-Green at Lowe’s and Expert Gardener at Wal-Mart. A Spectrum Brands spokesperson could not comment on whether the company would end these particular partnerships.

Spectrum’s Home and Garden Business will continue to manufacture a number of other products, including outdoor and indoor insect control products, insect repellants and rodenticides. Continuing brand names include Spectracide, Cutter, Hot Shot, Repel, Garden Safe and Schultz.

Spectrum Brands also makes Rayovac batteries, Remington electric shavers, Tetra aquarium supplies and other consumer products.

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Foreclosure filings up in October

BY HBSDEALER Staff

U.S. foreclosure filings increased 5 percent from September to 279,561 properties this month — one in every 452 households. That is up 25 percent from October 2007, according to research firm RealtyTrac.

“We’ve seen sharp declines in new foreclosure filings after legislation mandating delays to the foreclosure process was signed into law in several states — most notably in California, where overall foreclosure activity was down by double-digit percentage points for the second straight month in October,” said James J. Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac. “Despite this, October marks the 34th consecutive month where U.S. foreclosure activity has increased compared to the prior year.”

Nevada reported the highest state foreclosure rate for the 22nd consecutive month in October. Foreclosure filings in Nevada stood at 14,483 properties this month, up 11 percent from the previous month.

Arizona posted the second highest state foreclosure rate, with 17,507 filings, up nearly 35 percent from September.

Florida registered the third highest state foreclosure rate, with 54,324 filings, an increase of 13 percent from the previous month.

Other states among the top 10 were California, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio.

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Two nonprofits receive $10,000 checks from Ace

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ace Hardware awarded two nonprofit organizations with $10,000 checks recently as part of its 2008 New Faces for Helpful Places program.

Chattanooga Rescue Mission in Chattanooga, Tenn., one of 10 organizations chosen from 2,600 entries nationwide, received a visit from the Ace crew Nov. 11. The mission, which has provided help for homeless men and women for 30 years, will be remodeled by a crew from Ace and some local volunteers.

Springtides, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based nonprofit group that works with children with developmental and behavioral issues, received a $10,000 check from Ace on Nov. 12. The organization, founded in 2000, hopes the award will result in a new waiting area for families, according to local news station KCRG.

In total, Ace has donated $200,000 to local “Helpful Places” across the country.

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