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Whirlpool earnings up 60 percent in Q2

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Whirlpool, parent of Maytag and Kenmore, reported strong second-quarter sales and earniings, due in large part to international sales growth.

Net earnings rose 60 percent to $161 million from $100 million last year. Sales rose 3 percent to $4.85 billion from $4.7 billion last year.

While Whirlpool North America reported a 6 percent drop in sales, sales in Europe rose 10 percent, sales in Asia rose 23 percent and sales in Latin American rose 29 percent.

“We are addressing current U.S. industry demand trends and heightened global material costs with continued new product innovation, increased productivity throughout our global operations, as well as improving our overall mix of business,” said Jeff Fettig, chairman and CEO.

“While weak industry demand and significantly higher material prices in the United States have unfavorably impacted our results for the past year, we are positive about the trends,” he added.

The company launched several new products in the year, and Whirlpool highlighted new products and new innovation investment from its recently acquired Maytag business. Maytag launched a new “Epic” washing machine with a built-in “OxiClean” dispenser in the second quarter.

“We now expect to realize efficiencies in excess of $400 million from the Maytag acquisition during 2007 and continue to execute plans to revitalize Maytag’s product offering and growth,” Fettig said.

Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, Mich., manufactures appliances worldwide under several brand names, including Jenn-Air and KitchenAid.

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Acuity Brands acquires Mark Architectural Lighting

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Acuity Brands, maker and marketer of lighting products under names including Lithonia and Peerless, has acquired Edison, N.J.-based Mark Architectural Lighting. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mark Architectural Lighting is a high-end manufacturer of lighting products primarily in the Northeast, and particularly in the metropolitan New York market. The company had sales of more than $22 million in 2006.

“This acquisition is part of our broader strategy to enhance our service to the architectural community, particularly in New York City,” said Vernon Nagel, chairman, president and CEO of Acuity Brands.

Scott Coppola, vp and general manager of the Center for Light and Space, the company’s recently opened sales and marketing office in New York, said Mark Architectural Lighting has been growing “rapidly” over the past few years.

“We determined the best way to sustain that growth was to access new resources,” he said.

Acuity Brands is a provider of fixtures under brands including Hydrel, Holophane, American Electric Lighting and Gotham. The company had net sales of $2.4 billion last year.

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Permit activity falls sharply in June

BY HBSDEALER Staff

While housing starts rose slightly last month, the number of housing permits issued in June fell sharply, according to figures released by the Commerce Department.

Housing starts rose 2.3 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.467 million. Total building permits fell 7.5 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.406 million units and were down 25.2 percent from a year earlier.

“The small overall increase in total housing starts does not signal the end of the housing downswing,” said National Association of Home Builders chief economist David Seiders. “All of the gain occurred on the multi-family side, which is subject to sizeable month-to-month volatility.”

Starts of new single-family homes slipped by 0.2 percent during June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.151 million units, 21.6 percent below a year earlier.

Multi-family housing starts, on the other hand, increased 12.5 percent during the month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 316,000, which was 9.7 percent below the rate of June 2006.

Total building permits fell 7.5 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.406 million units and were down 25.2 percent from a year earlier.

Single-family permit issuance last month fell 4.1 percent to 1.019 million units, 27.5 percent below a year earlier, while multi-family permits declined 15.3 percent to 387,000 units, which was 18.4 percent below the annual rate set in June 2006.

Regionally, starts of new homes and apartments in June were up 9 percent in the West and 2.4 percent in the South, following sharp declines in May. Starts were down 3.7 percent in the Midwest and 2.4 percent in the Northeast. All four regions experienced a construction pace that was down substantially from a year earlier.

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