Weak housing market hurts USG
Building materials supplier USG swung to a second-quarter loss on a weak housing market and rising fuel costs.
The company recorded $40 million in losses, swinging from a year-ago profit of $56 million in the second quarter. Net sales were $1.25 billion, down 11.3 percent from $1.41 billion last year.
Gypsum sales were off in the United States — USG shipped 1.9 billion square feet of gypsum wallboard during the second quarter of 2008, compared with 2.4 billion square feet shipped during last year’s second quarter. The drop-off in the United States was in small part offset by higher gypsum sales in Canada and Mexico.
L&W Supply and its subsidiaries, which comprise USG’s building products distribution business, reported second-quarter 2008 net sales of $542 million, down 17 percent compared with last year.
Still, USG’s Worldwide Ceilings business reported second-quarter net sales of $237 million, a record for any quarter in the division’s history, according to the company.
NAHB executive to deliver keynote speech
Jerry Howard, executive vp and CEO of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), will deliver the builder keynote address on Oct. 3 at the 2008 ProDealer Industry Summit. The three-day event, scheduled from Oct. 1 to 3 in Chantilly, Va., is a joint conference of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) and Home Channel News.
Howard has led the NAHB’s lobbying efforts to pressure federal lawmakers to pass a first-time home buyer tax credit and other housing stimulus legislation. A former chief lobbyist for the National Council of State Housing Agencies, Howard has testified before Congress numerous times on a wide range of issues.
Another Washington insider, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, will kick off the conference at the Westfields Marriott. Ivy Zelman, one of the building industry’s most widely recognized analysts, will deliver her industry outlook.
Other educational sessions will include strategies for running a tight credit operation, preparing for the next wave of Energy Star requirements and how the downturn has changed builders’ attitudes toward their suppliers.
New home sales down slightly in June
Sales of newly built single-family homes dipped 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 530,000 units in June from an upwardly revised pace the previous month, the Commerce Department reported July 25.
According to NAHB president Sandy Dunn, a home builder from Point Pleasant, W.Va., the weak sales numbers further demonstrate the need for the housing and economic stimulus bill, which is nearing final passage in the U.S. Senate.
“Once signed by the President, this legislation will boost confidence in the housing finance system, bring some stability to the overall market and stimulate sales as first-time buyers start taking advantage of a tax credit of up to $7,500,” Dunn said.
NAHB chief economist David Seiders said that on the positive side, the report shows that builders are making some progress on reducing the inventory of unsold units. According to the report, the inventory of new homes for sale eased down 5.3 percent in June to 426,000 units. This represented a 10-month supply at the current sales pace, compared to a 10.4-month supply in May.
Regionally, sales activity was mixed in June, with the Northeast and Midwest posting respective gains of 5.3 percent and 2.5 percent, and the South and West posting respective declines of 2 percent and 0.9 percent. All regions registered declines in the number of new homes for sale.