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Universal Forest Products names new director

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Universal Forest Products has named Bill Payne to its board of directors, effective April 2009, to replace outgoing board chairman emeritus Peter Secchia, who will retire next year.

Payne currently serves as chief of staff for Alticor Inc.; he formerly worked in sales and marketing at the company’s Amway Corp. branch.

“He brings well-cultivated business skills, a strong aptitude for strategy and an understanding of our company, business and culture,” said UFP executive chairman William Currie in a statement.

As chief of staff for Alticor, the parent company of Amway Corp., Quixtar North America / Amway Global Inc., Access Business Group LLC and Alticor Corporate Enterprises, Payne works with Alticor’s office of the CEO “on priority projects and oversees day-to-day management of the global Alticor enterprise,” according to a statement.

Universal Forest Products markets, manufactures and engineers wood and wood-alternative products for a number of home building and home improvement applications.

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Housing starts rose between May and June

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Housing starts rose 9.1 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.066 million units, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. That figure is 26.9 percent below the June 2007 rate of 1.458 million.

Of those, single-family housing starts in June fell 5.3 percent to a rate of 647,000.

Housing completions in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.167 million, 1.2 percent above the revised May estimate of 1.153 million. That figure still is 21.7 percent below the revised June 2007 rate of 1.491 million.

Building permits in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.091 million, 11.6 percent higher than the May rate of 978,000. That figure is 23.9 percent below the June 2007 rate of 1.433 million.

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Earnings fall at Stock, Ferguson

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wolseley, the parent company of Stock Building Supply and Ferguson Enterprises, reported an 8 percent drop in revenues for its North American division during the 11-month period ended June 30, 2008. Earnings for the division, which also includes Wolseley’s Canadian operations, fell 46 percent.

Stock’s loss for the 11-month period was $203.8 million, compared to a $104 million profit in the comparable period last year. Revenues were down by 25 percent, reflecting a 22 percent decline in same-store sales. Wolseley executives blamed the results on increased price competition and pressure on gross margin at Stock, combined with the continued slowdown in housing starts.

Ferguson has benefited from the continued strength of the commercial and industrial sectors but suffered some weakness from declines in the residential and remodeling markets, according to Wolseley. Revenues for the plumbing and HVAC distributor’s 11-month period were marginally up due to acquisitions, while organic revenue declined by 3 percent. Ferguson’s profits were 10 percent lower than in the previous year, primarily due to costs associated with the restructuring announced in May. Ferguson has closed 75 branches since that time.

In a statement about its European operations, Wolseley noted that “there has been a rapid deterioration in market conditions in the U.K, particularly with new housing, and many other European markets continue to soften. The Group continues to focus on cost reduction and cash flow enhancement.”

Headquartered in Reading, England, Wolseley is an international building materials distributor with nearly 5,000 branch operations in 28 countries. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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