Tax reform hurts Toro earnings
The Toro Company reported first quarter 2018 net sales increased 6.3% to $548.2 million from net sales of $515.8 million in the first quarter of 2017.
The Bloomington, Minn.-based outdoor power equipment manufacturer also reported first quarter net earnings of $22.6 million, significantly down from first quarter 2017 net earnings of $45 million. Toro reported that net earnings for the quarter include one-time charges from U.S. tax reform and adjusted net earnings were $52.1 million. The reported tax rate for the first quarter was 66% percent compared to 24.5% last year, according to Toro.
Professional segment net sales for the first quarter were $403.7 million, up 8.6% from $371.8 million last year. Toro said sales of zero-turn riding mowers in its landscape business increased as the channel prepares for the spring selling season.
Residential segment net sales for the first quarter were $142.5 million, up 1.5% from $140.4 million last year. Below average snowfall early in the season, combined with below average snow events in the Midwest, negatively impacted sales of Toro’s residential snow thrower products, the company said.
Lowe’s launches workforce development program
With a labor shortage haunting America’s construction and home building industries, Lowe's Companies, Inc. is getting serious about workforce development.
Today the Mooresville, N.C.-based home improvement giant announced “Track to the Trades,” a new labor development initiative designed to provide innovative career alternatives and financial support for employees to pursue a skilled trade.
The program will be supported in partnership with Guild Education, a Denver, Colo.-based adult education company.
Under terms of the program, Lowe’s will offer employees upfront tuition funding for trade skill certification, academic coaching and support, and placement opportunities for full-time pre-apprenticeships in Lowe's nationwide contractor network. Employees can also opt to continue their career growth with Lowe's, the company said.
The program will debut March 1 through a four-city pilot program, including Charlotte, N.C., Denver, Pittsburgh, Pa., and Richmond, Va. Lowe’s then plans to expand the program to qualified part-time and full-time employees nationwide by the end of 2018.
Eligible employees will receive up to $2,500 to gain a certification and serve as a pre-apprentice in carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing or appliance repair careers. Pre-apprenticeships take approximately six to 10 months, and participants will also receive enrollment guidance and a field mentor.
"The trade profession is a high-demand, high-opportunity field for the next generation workforce, and today, there is a massive unmet need," said Jennifer Weber, Lowe's chief human resources officer. "With Track to the Trades, we are providing unique career alternatives for our associates while also building a pipeline for the next generation of skilled trade workers, allowing us to better meet the demands of customers while creating long-term educational benefits and economic opportunity for our people."
Lowe's said that recent analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed that the nation will experience a skilled trades gap of more than a half million jobs across construction-related fields by 2026.
"Lowe's is leading the way on pre-apprenticeship models that prepare employees for jobs of the future, both while working at Lowe's and beyond in their careers," said Guild Education CEO, Rachel Carlson. "The education pathways offered by Lowe's eliminate the all-to-common false choice between trades programs and advancement in higher education. At Guild, we're honored to be working with the Lowe's team on this first-of-a-kind partnership."
Lowe's operates and services more than 2,370 home improvement stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Masonite Q4 sales, earnings rise
Masonite International Corporation, the exterior and interior door manufacturer, reported fourth quarter 2017 net sales increased 6% to $509 million from $481 million in the comparable period of 2016.
North American Residential net sales were $359 million, a 7% increase over the fourth quarter of 2016, driven by a 4% increase in volume.
The company also reported a net income of $72 million for the fourth quarter compared to a net income of $15.4 million in the fourth quarter 2016. The Tampa, Fla.-based manufacturer said its fourth quarter net income included $51 million in tax benefits.
For the full year, Masonite reported net sales increased 3% to $2.03 billion from $1.97 billion in 2016. Masonite also reported a net income of $157 million, up 51% from a net income of $104 million in the full year 2016.
"We are encouraged by the steps taken in 2017 that improved our momentum in the second half of the year which we believe will continue to benefit our 2018 performance," said Fred Lynch, Masonite president and CEO.