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Whirlpool up in the fourth quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Still seeing the benefits of its 2006 acquisition of Maytag, Whirlpool reported higher fourth-quarter earnings of $187 million, up 71.6 percent from $109 million last year. Sales for the quarter were $5.33 billion, up 7.7 percent from $4.95 billion last year.

For the full year, net earnings rose 47.8 percent to $640 million from $433 million in the previous year. Sales for 2007 were $19.4 billion, up 7.2 percent from $18.1 billion last year.

Whirlpool announced intentions last week to close plants in Tennessee and Mexico, affecting about 1,250 workers. The company said it would eliminate 500 jobs from a plant in La Vergne, Tenn., and a further 750 jobs at a plant in Reynosa, Mexico. Production of built-in refrigerators made in Tennessee will move to the company’s Fort Smith, Ark., plant, which plans to add about 275 jobs by December, the company said.

Jeff Fettig, chairman and CEO of Whirlpool, credited international strength for offsetting a weaker domestic climate.

“Our performance in this environment highlights the strength of our global brands and the geographic diversity of our global operating platform,” Fettig said.

Whirlpool’s North American sales fell by just under 1 percent to $3 billion, while sales in its Latin American segment grew 30 percent to $1 billion. European segment sales rose 12 percent to $1.1 billion, and Whirlpool Asia sales grew 26 percent to $155 million.

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84 Lumber reports 2007 sales

BY HBSDEALER Staff

84 Lumber has reported $3.1 billion in revenues for 2007, a 24 percent drop from its sales in 2006.

The industry’s largest privately owned chain of lumberyards, which ranked third on HCN’s Top 350 Pro Dealer list, reduced its head count by 175 positions at its headquarters over the past 12 months. Approximately 850 additional employees have been cut at other locations.

The Eighty Four, Pa.-based company has closed 22 stores since 2005, although some of these were relocations or near a new 84 Lumber store, said Jeff Nobers, vp-corporate communications.

“Our goal is to continue to grow market share,” Nobers told HCN. The company intends to open 10 new locations in 2008, Nobers said, pinpointing Illinois, Wisconsin, Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida and California. Two of the pro dealer’s locations, in Annapolis, Md., and Clarksville, Del., are undergoing extensive renovations that will double or triple their size and add showrooms and warehouse space. Nobers added: “They will be, in effect, new stores.”

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Pulte Homes loss widens in fourth quarter

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based home builder Pulte Homes posted a loss of $874.7 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2007, compared to a loss of $8.4 million in the same quarter last year. For the full year, the company swung to a loss of $2.25 billion, compared to earnings of $687 million in 2006.

“The challenging market conditions that plagued the home-building industry for the first nine months of 2007 worsened in the fourth quarter,” said Richard J. Dugas, Jr., president and CEO of Pulte Homes. “Levels of new and existing-home inventory remain elevated, buyer demand for new homes continues to be weak and mortgage availability is still a problem for many prospective home buyers.”

The company also showed net sales of $2.9 billion for the fourth quarter of last year, down 34 percent from the same quarter of 2006 of $4.4 billion.

Net sales for the year were $9.3 billion, down 35 percent from $14.3 billion for 2006.

The company closed 8,714 homes in the fourth quarter, down 31 percent from the same quarter last year, with average sales price per home at $319,000, down 6 percent from the fourth quarter last year.

New orders for the quarter were 4,562, down 29 percent from the fourth quarter in 2006. The company also projects a first-quarter net loss of 15 cents to 30 cents per share.

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