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Weyerhaeuser reports loss in fourth quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser reported a net fourth-quarter loss of $63 million, swinging from earnings of $507 million in the same period last year. Sales were $3.9 billion, down 23.1 percent from $4.8 billion last year.

For the year, the forest products company had net earnings of $790 million, up 74.4 percent from $453 million in 2006. Sales dropped, however, to $16.3 billion from $18.7 billion last year, a decline of 12.8 percent.

Steven Rogel, chairman and CEO of Weyerhaeuser, characterized 2007 as a “challenging year” and said the company has been implementing ongoing improvements to its packaging business, while implementing “growth strategies” in its timberlands business.

“The continuing erosion of the U.S. housing market created very unfavorable market conditions for our timberlands, wood products and real estate businesses,” Rogel said. “Despite difficult market conditions, which we expect to continue through 2008, Weyerhaeuser remains focused on managing through the downturn.”

The company’s real estate business took the largest hit, with earnings falling 52 percent. Orders were down 19 percent, and the company’s backlog of homes sold, but not closed, dropped 35 percent.

Weyerhaeuser is one of North America’s largest diversified wood products companies.

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Research firm points to garage as opportunity

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group pointed to garage storage as a home improvement category somewhat immune to the housing downturn, as well as an opportunity for home improvement retailers.

“Garage storage is somewhat immune to the current housing market downturn,” said Mark Delaney, director of NPD Group’s Home division. “It’s not like the kitchen category. Consumers who plan on redoing their garage are doing so, regardless of what the housing market is doing.”

Some of the garage storage findings from NPD Group include:

• Warehouse home centers took the lion’s share of dollars at 47 percent in the garage and storage sector. Mass merchants followed at 32 percent and department stores at 5 percent.

• The garage storage segment attracts mostly high-income male shoppers.

• During the 12 months ending October 2007, men accounted for 64 percent of the dollar share in the garage storage and organization sector.

NPD Research is based on monthly tracking of 30,000 opt-in respondents in 70 categories.

“Areas ‘outside’ the home are getting more attention and are benefiting from the trend in making visual statements out of previously simple spaces. Garage storage is one of those areas that has evolved from simple products like bike racks and tool hooks into a race to build the ultimate ‘man cave’ complete with refrigerators and flat-screen TVs,” said Delaney.

While women account for only 36 percent of the dollar share in the garage storage and organization sector, “NPD consumer research shows that women mainly shop for home improvement items within mass merchants, where items generally sell for less. Women might become a bigger piece of the pie if mass merchants begin to carry more aspirational items or if department stores and warehouse clubs adjust their marketing efforts to appeal better to women,” said Delaney.

“Garage storage is an up-and-coming category that seems somewhat recession-proof. Retailers looking to attract a higher income consumer should consider expanding their assortment in this area,” added Delaney.

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ProBuild acquires Jasper Lumber

BY HBSDEALER Staff

ProBuild Holdings has finalized its acquisition of Jasper Lumber, a North Atlanta-based lumber, truss and millwork business. Terms of the deal were not disclosed

The purchase includes Jasper Lumber’s Cumming, Ga.-based lumber distribution business and its Kennesaw, Ga.-based lumberyard, truss and millwork manufacturing facility.

“Jasper Lumber is an outstanding, well-run operation,” said Jim Cavanaugh, ProBuild South region president, in a statement. “This acquisition, along with the previously announced acquisition of HD Supply’s LBM operation, positions us well to serve all segments of the Atlanta market.”   

Jasper Lumber was founded in 1947 in Jasper, Ga., and it relocated in 1963 to the suburbs of Atlanta. It has been operated by second- and third-generation owners Bill Adams and his son, Keith.

ProBuild Holdings is one of the nation’s largest supplier of building materials to professional contractors, with more than 520 lumber and building product distribution, manufacturing and assembly centers in 41 states.

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