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Stanley Works announces strong fourth quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

New Britain, Conn.-based Stanley Works reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $92.3 million, up 6.6 percent from $86.6 million from the same period last year. Net sales from the quarter were $1.16 billion, up 14.5 percent from $1.02 billion in last year’s fourth quarter.

For the year, the company had net earnings of $336.6 million, up 16.2 percent from $289.5 million in 2006. Net sales were $4.48 billion, up 11.6 percent from last year’s sales of $4.09 billion.

The company attributed the increase to organic growth, currency and acquisitions.

“2008 promises to be an equally, if not more, challenging year from an end-market perspective. Fortunately, we are entering the year with our portfolio in excellent shape and with the majority of our businesses exhibiting strong momentum,” said John Lundgren, chairman and CEO for the company.

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New home sales show further weakness

BY HBSDEALER Staff

New single-family home sales fell further in December, down 4.7 percent from November, according to figures released today by the United States Commerce Department. December’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of 604,000 units was a full 40.7 percent below the same period a year ago.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) called the lower results further evidence of a need for a federal “economic stimulus package to boost the ailing economy.”

“The continuing deterioration in the housing market, as reflected in today’s numbers, underscores the need to do more to stabilize housing and the economy,” said Jerry Howard, executive vp and CEO of the NAHB.

“[Federal] policymakers are meeting this week, and they can do their part to help by continuing to cut interest rates and inject liquidity into the financial markets,” added NAHB chief economist Dave Seiders.

Regionally, new home sales fell 6.5 percent in the South, 6 percent in the West and 1.2 percent in the Midwest month-over-month. The Northeast posted a 6 percent gain. All regions were down substantially on a year-over-year basis, ranging from a 27.4 percent fall-off in the Northeast to a 55.8 percent drop in the Midwest.

The inventory of new homes for sale was down 2.3 percent to 495,000 units in December, as builders continued to gradually work down their inventory. The equivalent months’ supply at the December sales pace edged up to 9.6 months from 9.4 months in November.

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Restoration Hardware agrees to lower price in merger plan

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Corte Madera, Calif.-based Restoration Hardware, a specialty retailer that has had financial difficulties over the last year, has agreed to a lower per-share price from investment group Catterton Partners.

According to the company, it will now accept a per-share price of $4.50, down from an original price of $6.70. The new agreement still allows time for competing bids from other companies, including Sears Holdings, which earlier offered a bid of $6.75 per share for the high-end home decor retailer.

“This additional time period for competing proposals will allow Sears or other third parties that may have an interest to make an offer to acquire the company,” said Restoration Hardware in a statement. “There is no assurance that any third party, including Sears, will pursue a competing proposal to acquire the company or that the solicitation of superior proposals will result in an alternative transaction.”

In mid-January, Restoration Hardware revealed sluggish holiday sales. The company said net revenue took a small hit, falling 1 percent to $171.5 million from $173.2 million in the same nine-week period last year.

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