Thursday, May 12, 2011

BSA reports strong growth in sales

Sales increased 17 percent in 2010 compared to 2009

A report on the results of the Bearing Specialists Association (BSA) 2011 Distributor Survey revealed strong sales and an improving economy. The data, reported by Carl James, BDI-Canada, at the BSA 45th Annual Convention, revealed that in 2010 the aggregate sales volume for participating distributors was $2,250,000,000 this represents an increase of 17.2% over the 2009 volume of $1,920,000,000. Estimates are that 2011 will continue this trend with a gain of 7.8%.

As James pointed out, if the industry grows 12% in 2011, “we reach $2.70 Billion in Sales and Exceed 2008 in 2011.” A closer look at the end-users reflects a changing, dynamic, and perhaps more resilient marketplace than originally expected.

Distributors also demonstrated increased productivity – and comparable profitability as well – by holding the line on hiring. In 2010 survey respondents reported the aggregate number of employees had grown to 17,000, an increase of just 1.8% over 2009. In 2007 the aggregate number of employees was 17,600; this number fell to 16,600 in 2008.

In presenting the survey results, James noted that this was the fifth year for the BSA Distributor Survey. Survey results in 2011 were based on 25 BSA member respondents among 40 BSA members. Respondents represent 90% of the dollar value of bearings sold through BSA members. The report is prepared by the Profit Planning Group LLC (PPG). Completed surveys are sent directly to PPG where they are held in confidence. PPG accumulates data and reports the results.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Distribution Update joins Trades Hub network

Our blog joins the family of online industry/trade information via Mike Rowe’s new “Trades Hub” platform

Distribution Update is now part of the Trades Hub network, an online information-sharing initiative from skilled trades-champion Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe.

Rowe launched in 2008 as a resource and community forum for skilled trades people. Trades Hub takes the effort a step further, expanding Rowe’s reach to include a wider range of news and information for workers in trades such as construction, welding, landscaping, HVAC, manufacturing, and more. Trades Hub is a network of blogs, news, articles and other information about the trades and for the trades.

Users can access information by trade, topic, location, source and date at Or, click the Trades Hub icon in the right-hand column of the Distribution Update page.

Industrial distributors continue strong performance

Kaman Industrial Technologies, DXP Enterprises and others post double-digit sales gains in the first quarter

For proof that U.S. manufacturing activity remains strong and is leading the economic recovery, look no further than some of this week’s earnings reports from some of the largest industrial distributors in North America.

Double-digit sales gains for companies like Kaman Industrial Technologies, Airgas and DXP Enterprises came on top of yet another strong economic report from the Institute for Supply Management, which reported this week that its Purchasing Manager’s Index remained above 60 in April, marking the 21st straight month of growth in the manufacturing sector. A PMI of higher than 50 indicates growth; a PMI of less than 50 indicates contraction.

Here’s a look at some of the quarterly distribution results released this week:

Sales grew 33% for Kaman Industrial Technologies, reaching a record $239 million compared to $179 million a year ago. The results reflect growth from acquisitions made in 2010 and a healthier business environment compared to the same period a year ago, the company said.

Airgas reported fiscal fourth-quarter sales of $1.1 billion, an increase of 12% over the prior year. Total same-store sales increased 11%, with hardgoods up 14% and gas and rent up 9%.

Sequentially, total sales increased 7% from the third quarter and sales per day increased 3%. Net earnings were $63 million, or 74 cents per share.

The company cited strength in manufacturing, medical, utilities and petrochemical industries.
For the full year, Airgas’ sales increased 10% from the prior year to $4.3 billion. Net earnings for the year were $250 million, or $2.93 per diluted share.

At DXP Enterprises, first-quarter sales rose 25% to $183 million, compared to $147 million in the same period a year ago.

Net income rose nearly 77% to $6.3 million, or 42 cents per share, compared to $3.6 million, or 26 cents per share a year ago.

The company cited improvement in all if its end markets, particularly oil and gas.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

AIT acquires Gulf Coast Bearing

Gulf Coast Bearing serves customers in South Texas

Applied Industrial Technologies (NYSE: AIT) has acquired the assets of Gulf Coast Bearing & Supply Co. of Corpus Christi, Texas. Gulf Coast Bearing & Supply is a full line bearing and power transmission distributor with locations in Corpus Christi and Pharr, Texas. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Founded in 1985, Gulf Coast Bearing & Supply serves a broad range of customers in South Texas, primarily in the petrochemical, food processing, construction and agriculture industries. Both existing locations will become fully functional Applied® service centers with access to more than four million parts.

"Gulf Coast Bearing & Supply is one of the leading independent bearing and power transmission distributors in its territory and will be an important addition to the North American network of Applied Industrial Technologies service centers," says Todd A. Barlett, Vice President – Acquisitions and Global Business Development for Applied. "The acquisition is a win-win for the customers of both companies as we expand our product offering and technical support into this region."

"We're proud to be part of a team that can provide world-class customer support in South Texas," says Jim Breen, President of Gulf Coast Bearing & Supply. "As part of Applied, our customers will benefit from a wider selection of products and outstanding technical service."

With approximately 470 facilities and 4,600 employee associates across North America, Applied Industrial Technologies is an industrial distributor that offers more than 4 million parts critical to the operations of MRO and OEM customers in virtually every industry. In addition, Applied provides engineering, design and systems integration for industrial and fluid power applications, as well as customized mechanical, fabricated rubber and fluid power shop services. Applied also offers maintenance training, plus solutions to meet inventory and storeroom management needs that help provide enhanced value to its customers. For its fiscal year ended June 30, 2010, Applied posted sales of $1.89 billion.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Electronics distributors post strong results

Arrow reports strongest first-quarter results in company’s history; Avnet reports 40% growth for fourth straight quarter

The electronics sector continues to perform well despite lingering concerns about the potential impact on the industry from the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March. Two of the industry’s leading distributors reported strong sales and earnings this week, noting continued demand for electronics and computer products worldwide.

Arrow Electronics reported first-quarter profit of $136.3 million on sales of $5.22 billion. The distributor’s global sales of electronic components hit $3.89 billion, a 24% increase over the previous year, while its enterprise computing solutions sales reached $1.34 billion, a 21% increase over the prior year.

"Our growth strategy and the related momentum we built throughout the second half of 2009 and 2010 have carried over into the first quarter of 2011, with the Arrow team generating the strongest first-quarter results in our history. Revenue and earnings per share came in well ahead of our expectations, driven by strength in both of our business segments," said Michael J. Long, president and CEO.

At Avnet, sales rose 40% in the fiscal third quarter ended April 2, marking the company’s fourth consecutive quarter of 40% year-over-year growth.

Avnet Electronics Marketing, its electronic components business, saw record revenue of $3.93 billion, a 36% increase year-over-year and a 10% sequential increase. The company said demand for electronic components remained strong during the quarter in all of its main regions, noting that growth was strongest in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Sales for Avnet Technology Solutions, its computer-related business, rose 47% year-over-year.

Looking ahead, Avnet noted the potential impact of the Japan earthquake and tsunami in the June quarter, citing a wider than normal sales and earnings range. Overall company sales are estimated at between $6.6 billion and $7.3 billion, with earnings per share of between $1.10 and $1.22.

“While it is difficult to gauge the impact of the Japan earthquake and tsunami on our June quarter revenue, we continue to work closely with our suppliers to understand what products are most impacted and meet the needs of our supply chain customers,” the company said in a statement announcing the results.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kennametal sales soar 25% in Q3

Company also raises guidance for remainder of fiscal 2011

Kennametal Inc. today reported record third quarter fiscal sales of $615 million, a 25 percent increase compared to the same quarter last year.

Carlos Cardoso, Kennametal's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer said, "March quarter results continue to demonstrate that our global team is successfully executing our established strategies. We realized organic sales growth of 25 percent year-over-year, despite strong comparisons from the prior year. This growth reflected higher customer demand in both our served end markets as well as geographic regions. Even at a sales level that is lower than prior peak, we achieved a record operating margin for the March quarter. In addition, we again increased our guidance for sales and earnings per share for the current fiscal year. We continue to outperform the forecasted industrial production rate and expect to maintain our strong operating leverage."

Cardoso added, "Our long-term strategies remain consistent -- we continue to balance our served end markets, business mix and geographic presence. Kennametal is a 'Breakaway' company that has demonstrated its ability to be profitable throughout the economic cycle."

Here is a breakout of Kennametal’s segments for the quarter:
• Industrial segment sales of $392 million grew 28 percent from $306 million in the prior year quarter, driven by organic growth of 29 percent and a 1 percent favorable foreign currency impact, partially offset by an unfavorable impact due to fewer business days. On an organic basis, sales increased in all served market sectors led by strong growth in general engineering and transportation sales of 34 percent and 29 percent, respectively. On a regional basis, sales increased by approximately 32 percent in Asia, 29 percent in Europe and 23 percent in the Americas.
• Industrial segment operating income was $54 million compared with $11 million for the same quarter of the prior year. Absent restructuring and related charges recorded in both periods, Industrial operating income was $56 million compared with $26 million in the prior year quarter. The primary drivers of the increase in operating income were higher sales volume and price realization, improved capacity utilization and incremental restructuring benefits. These benefits were partially offset by higher raw material costs and the restoration of temporary cost reductions. Industrial adjusted operating margin increased to 14.3 percent from 8.6 percent in the prior year.
• Infrastructure segment sales of $223 million increased 19 percent from $187 million in the prior year quarter due to organic growth. The organic increase was driven by higher sales in the energy and earthworks markets of 21 percent and 17 percent, respectively. On a regional basis, organic sales increased by approximately 20 percent in the Americas, 15 percent in Asia and 11 percent in Europe.
• Infrastructure segment operating income was $36 million, compared with $19 million in the same quarter of the prior year. Absent restructuring and related charges recorded in both periods, Infrastructure operating income was $37 million in the current quarter compared with $26 million in the prior year quarter. Operating income improved primarily due to higher sales volume and price realization, increased capacity utilization and incremental restructuring benefits, partially offset by higher raw material costs and the restoration of temporary cost reductions. Infrastructure adjusted operating margin increased from the prior year quarter to 16.5 percent from 13.8 percent.

Kennametal executives in a press release said global economic conditions and worldwide industrial production continues to remain positive. As such, Kennametal expects its fiscal 2011 organic sales growth to be 24 percent to 25 percent. This is in line with our goal of growing at least two times the rate of increase in global industrial production.

The company expects EPS for fiscal 2011 to be in the range of $2.75 to $2.85 per share, excluding charges related to previously announced restructuring programs, increased from the previous range of $2.50 to $2.65 per share, excluding charges related to restructuring.

Kennametal also announced that its Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.12 per share. The dividend is payable May 25, 2011 to shareowners of record as of the close of business on May 10, 2011.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Parker Hannifin reports record Q3 results

Sales increase 24 percent; company raises guidance for year

Diversified manufacturer Parker Hannifin Corporation today reported record results for the fiscal 2011 third quarter ended March 31, 2011. Fiscal 2011 third quarter sales were $3.2 billion, a third quarter record representing an increase of 23.9 percent from $2.6 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Net income was an all-time quarterly record of $281.6 million, an increase of 82.4 percent from $154.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2010. Earnings per diluted share for the quarter were also an all-time quarterly record at $1.68, compared with $0.94 in last year's third quarter.

Parker manufactures a number of products ranging from motion and control technologies, hose and accessories such as valves and fittings.

"Our third quarter performance reflects the continued strength that we see across our end markets and regions and our ability to leverage that strength into higher operating margins and record quarterly earnings per share," said Chairman, CEO and President Don Washkewicz. "Customer orders also increased significantly in the quarter. All segments reported a double-digit increase in sales and order levels. Total organic sales increased 21 percent in the quarter with acquisitions contributing 1 percent and currency contributing 2 percent. Margin performance was also a positive as total segment operating margin was a third quarter record of 14.8 percent, led by Industrial North America segment margin of 16.1 percent and Industrial International segment margin of 15.5 percent. Further reflecting our continued strong balance sheet and cash flow, the Board of Directors today approved a 16 percent increase in our quarterly dividend from 32 cents to 37 cents per common share."

In the Industrial North America segment, third quarter sales increased 23.0 percent to $1.2 billion, and operating income was $189.5 million compared with $133.6 million in the same period a year ago.

In the Industrial International segment, third quarter sales increased 29.9 percent to $1.3 billion, and operating income was $199.8 million compared with $109.3 million in the same period a year ago.

In the Aerospace segment, third quarter sales increased 12.1 percent to $503.8 million, and operating income was $69.0 million compared with $49.8 million in the same period a year ago.

In the Climate and Industrial Controls segment, third quarter sales increased 24.9 percent to $264.5 million, and operating income was $22.6 million compared with $16.3 million in the same period a year ago.

The company reported the following orders by operating segment:
• Orders increased 20 percent in the Industrial North America segment, compared with the same quarter a year ago.
• Orders increased 22 percent in the Industrial International segment, compared with the same quarter a year ago.
• Orders increased 44 percent in the Aerospace segment on a rolling 12-month average basis.
• Orders increased 14 percent in the Climate and Industrial Controls segment, compared with the same quarter a year ago.

For fiscal 2011, the company has increased guidance for earnings from continuing operations from the previous range of $5.80 to $6.20 per diluted share to a new range of $6.20 to $6.40 per diluted share.

Washkewicz added, "Our performance year-to-date reflects the ongoing economic recovery and the continued execution of our Win Strategy, now in its tenth year. Parker continues to position itself favorably for continued earnings growth by focusing on premier service to our customers, lean operations and ongoing investments in leading edge innovations across the company. Parker expects to deliver record earnings in fiscal 2011, with a strong order backlog going into fiscal year 2012."

Infor acquires Lawson Software for $2 billion

Infor,investment firm had been in negotiations with Lawson since March

Lawson Software Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by GGC Software Holdings, Inc., an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital and software provider Infor, in a transaction valued at approximately $2 billion. Under the terms of the merger agreement, stockholders of Lawson will receive $11.25 per share in cash.

The announcement marks the culmination of Lawson Software’s evaluation of strategic alternatives and review and negotiation of a proposal from Golden Gate and Infor that began prior to, and was later publicly confirmed in a press release on March 11, 2011. During its evaluation, Lawson conducted a comprehensive market assessment and contacted other potential acquirers including competing global providers of enterprise applications and financial buyers.

"We are pleased to have entered into a transaction that will offer Lawson stockholders an attractive valuation," said Harry Debes, Lawson's president and chief executive officer. "After a thorough examination of the strategic alternatives available to the company as well as extensive discussions with Golden Gate and Infor, Lawson's board unanimously concluded that this transaction is in the best interests of the company and our stockholders."

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter

Friday, April 22, 2011

Distributors continue strong performance

Applied Industrial, others cite solid gains driven by strength in the industrial sector

Citing continued strength in the manufacturing sector, some of the industry's largest publicly traded distributors reported solid sales and earnings this week.

Power transmission/motion control distributor Applied Industrial Technologies reported sales of $566 million for its fiscal third quarter, a 16% increase compared to the same period last year. Company chairman and CEO David Pugh said the results were fueled by a solid industrial economy.

"While we expect this economy to continue its recovery and to deliver a positive ongoing impact, such issues as oil prices and geo-political events dictate that we also maintain a focus on the underlying fundamentals of our business," Pugh said in a statement announcing the results this week.

Applied's results followed a similar strong performance from power transmission/motion control distributor Motion Industries last week. Motion's parent company, Genuine Parts Co., cited a 24% gain for Motion in the first quarter as sales rose to $999.7 million comapred to the same period a year ago. GPC also noted strong performance for EIS, Inc., its electrical group, which genreated a 39% sales increase.

"Both Motion Industries and EIS sell into the manufacturing sector of the economy, which began its recovery in 2010 and continues to perform well today," Thomas C. Gallagher, GPC's chairman, president and CEO said in a statement announcing the results.

Other distributors citing strong results this week include W.W. Grainger, which posted first-quarter sales of $1.9 billion, up 13% compared to the same period last year, and WESCO International, which reported a 25% sales gain in the first quarter, to $1.43 billion.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Minarik acquires Automation Technology

Kaman Industrial Technologies subsidiary expands in the Intermountain and Pacific Northwest regions

Kaman Industrial Technologies subsidiary Minarik Corp. has acquired Automation Technology, Inc., with locations in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Boise, Idaho. The deal adds to Minarik’s locations in Portland, Seattle and Denver, expanding the distributor’s business in the Intermountain and Pacific Northwest regions.

Minarik is a value-added distributor of motion control products; Automation Technology, Inc. is a strong motion control player in its region.

“We are very pleased to be able to continue Minarik’s market expansion with the acquisition of Automation Technology. Their knowledge of the market and technical expertise, coupled with the resources of Minarik and Kaman will offer the Intermountain and Northwest markets superior products with unequalled application support and service,” Andy Reid, Kaman’s area vice president, Minarik, said in a statement announcing the acquisition.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Graco will buy ITW unit for $650 million in cash

ITW unit had sales of $305 million in 2010

Graco, Inc. is buying the operations of the finishing business of Illinois Tool Works for $650 million in cash.

The ITW business makes and distributes equipment for industrial liquid finishing, powder coating and automotive refinishing worldwide.
The ITW business had revenue of $305 million in 2010.

The deal is expected to close sometime in June.

ITW's finishing business has about 40 percent of its sales coming from North America with significant operations in the United States, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil and Mexico. Its brands include Binks, Gema, Ransburg, DeVilbiss and BGK Finishing Systems.

Graco, which makes paint sprayers and fluid-handling equipment, said it plans to operate the businesses on a stand-alone basis and not integrate facilities, sales forces or distribution.

Graco's Chief Executive Officer Pat McHale said, "This acquisition is an excellent strategic fit with Graco's Industrial segment. It will advance all of our stated core growth strategies: new products and technology, geographic expansion, and new markets. We gain a leading position in industrial powder paint equipment – a growing global market where we have no offering today. In liquid finishing, the acquired product technologies are complementary to Graco's Industrial offering and also give us a leading position in automotive refinish where we have little presence. The acquired businesses generate two thirds of revenue outside North America, increasing our critical mass in important international and emerging markets. This transaction will bring several widely recognized premium brands to Graco, a strong distribution channel, an installed base and approximately 40 percent of revenue from parts and accessories."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Inventories, sales increased in February

Report indicates orders will be rising

Business inventories rose 0.5 percent in February, marking the 14th consecutive monthly increase , according to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department. Sales increased for the eighth consecutive month, indicating that factory orders will be rising in the next few months.

Combined sales by manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers increased 0.2 percent during the month.

The inventories increase means that stockpiles rose to $1.46 trillion in February. It is 10.7 percent higher than the recent low of $1.32 trillion reached in September 2009.

Sales rose at the manufacturing and retail levels, but declined 0.8 percent at the wholesale level.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fastenal sales climb 23% in 1Q

Fastenal expects to open 150-200 stores this year

Fastenal, the giant MRO distributor headquartered in Minnesota, reported a 23 percent sales increase for the first quarter ended March 31, continuing its strong growth during 2010.

The company said several additional factors positively impacted its sales growth in the first quarter: the strengthening Canadian dollar (when compared to the United States dollar) that added approximately 0.7 percentage points to its daily sales growth in both 2011 and 2010 and its Holo-Krome business, which was acquired in December 200 that added approximately 0.5 percentage points to Fastenal’s daily sales growth in 2009, as there were no comparable sales in 2009.

In July 2010, Fastenal indicated its intention to open 80 to 95 new stores during the second half of 2010 (or an annualized rate of 6.8% to 8.0%). During the second half of 2010 the company opened 82 stores. In 2011, Fastenal intends to open 150 to 200 new stores, or an annualized rate of 6.0% to 8.0%. In the first quarter of 2011, Fastenal opened 37 new stores.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Schneider may be interested in Tyco

Deal would allow Schneider to expand beyond electric-grid management

Paris-based Schneider Electric SA is looking at possibly acquiring Tyco International, Bloomberg News is reporting. Bloomberg said Tyco would help Schneider expand beyond electric-grid management by adding ADT, the biggest securities firm owned by Tyco, as well as fire-prevention equipment and services.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tramec LLC acquires Hill Fastener Corp.

Company will be named Tramec Hill Fastener, LLC

Fastener manufacturer Tramec LLC, has acquired the Hill Fastener Corporation located in Rock Falls, Illinois, This acquisition positions Hill Fastener as an integral part of the Tramec LLC fastener business, Tramec said. The acquisition will solidify the Tramec's presence in the industrial fastener market and creates instant synergies for both Tramec and Hill Fastener businesses, according to company officials.

Gary Sullo, president of Tramec LLC said, "The value proposition for both companies' customers will be immediately enhanced. The strategic acquisition of Hill Fastener adds manufacturing expertise to Tramec and represents a unique transaction where the sum of these two companies exceeds the individual components. We are enthusiastic about this acquisition, which is named Tramec Hill Fastener, LLC."

In a press release, Robert Hill, owner of Hill Fastener added, "I have had nearly 40 years of experience working here and it has always been my business strategy that, at the right time, Hill Fastener would be turned over to a company like Tramec LLC. As promised, our employees will be retained and the business will remain in the community where my father started it in 1957. I am very gratified by what has occurred for Hill Fastener and its employees."

The Tramec LLC product portfolio services the heavy-duty tractor and trailer OEM and aftermarket businesses, as well as the industrial market.

Tramec LLC is a business within the MacLean Investment Partners (MIP) portfolio owned by the MacLean family. This acquisition fits nicely with the long-range investment strategy to diversify manufacturing capabilities and customer base.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Regal Beloit acquires Virginia firm

This is Regal Beloit's the third acquisition in past four months

Regal Beloit Corporation (NYSE: RBC) today announced that it has acquired Ramu, Inc., a motor and control technology company headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, backed by the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures.

Ramu, Inc. is a startup company founded by Krishnan Ramu with a research and development team dedicated to the development of switched reluctance motor

Switched reluctance technology is a unique motor design that is suitable
for applications requiring improved operating efficiencies, high operating speeds or high ambient temperature conditions. An additional strategic feature of switched reluctanceis that it does not utilize permanent magnet materials to create the operating torque ofthe motor.

Ramu, Inc.’s current management and technical leadership will continue to lead the
research and development efforts at Ramu, Inc., which will remain headquartered in
Blacksburg, Virginia. This team will be focused on expanding Ramu, Inc.’s current
portfolio of multiple patents and patent applications as well as integrating this
technology into Regal Beloit’s broad motor portfolio for commercialization across
multiple Regal Beloit brands.

“We see potential differentiated value for our customers if we are able to successfully integrate this technology into our energy efficiency motor portfolio,” said Henry Knueppel, chairman and chief executive officer of Beloit-Il. based Regal Beloit.

Regal Beloit Corporation is a manufacturer of mechanical and electrical motion control and power generation products serving markets throughout the world. RegalBeloit is headquartered in Beloit, Wisconsin, and has manufacturing, sales, and servicefacilities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia. RegalBeloit’s common stock is a component of the S&P Mid Cap 400 Index and the Russell2000 Index.

This is the third acquisition announced by Regal-Beloit in the past few months.

MSC sales soar 22.2% in Q2

Rutland Tool acquisition adds $6.6 million in sales

MSC Industrial Direct, one of the largest direct marketers and premier distributors of Metalworking and Maintenance, Repair and Operations ("MRO") supplies to industrial customers throughout the United States, today reported that net sales for its second quarter rose 22.2% to $483.4 million, compared with $395.5 million in the prior year period.

Operating income increased 61.6% in the fiscal 2011 second quarter to $80.6 million, or 16.7% of net sales, from $49.9 million, or 12.6% of net sales, in the second quarter of fiscal 2010. For the second quarter of fiscal 2011, the Company reported net income of $49.7 million, an increase of 62.1% over net income of $30.6 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2010.

During the quarter, the Company completed the integration of its previously announced acquisition of Rutland Tool & Supply Co.. The company's results for the quarter included $6.6 million in sales from Rutland. Excluding acquisition and integration costs, Rutland broke even for the period. Pre-tax acquisition and integration costs incurred by the Company during the quarter were $1.65 million, resulting in a dilution of $0.016 per share, which was better than prior expectations.

Net sales for the first half of fiscal 2011 were $956.2 million, compared with net sales of $780.3 million in the first half of fiscal 2010.

David Sandler, President and Chief Executive Officer said, "I'm absolutely delighted with our performance and the strong financial results that our team delivered, driven by excellent execution, stronger demand across our customers than originally anticipated and continued gains in market share. We continue to execute against our strategic plan, delivering the growth in sales, earnings, and operating margin percentage that we were confident would result from our investments and model in a recovering market."

Erik Gershwind, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, stated, "We achieved strong results in the quarter led by significant growth within our core customer base. Our strong gross margin of 46.8% is primarily a function of improved rebates, excellent realization of the pricing adjustment we made around the holidays, and the growth in our core business. During the quarter, we also successfully completed the Rutland integration ahead of schedule, and that business delivered better results than we originally anticipated."

Mr. Sandler concluded, "Our results demonstrate the inherent leverage and power of our business model. We have seen significant benefits from our strategic growth programs, and we will continue to invest in these initiatives going forward. We are very encouraged by our progress, the performance of our investments, and recent strong economic trends, all of which bode well for the future."

For the fiscal 2011 third quarter, the Company expects net sales to be between $524 million and $536 million and expects diluted earnings per share for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 to be between $0.90 and $0.94.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ProBuild buys Harbert Lumber

ProBuild continues its expansion

ProBuild, one of the largest construction supply distributors in the country,, has acquired the assets of Harbert Lumber, a Grand Junction, Colo.-based LBM operation, according to ProSales magazine.

ProBuild, headquartered in Denver, currently operates a business office and lumberyard in Grand Junction.

ProBuild currently operates 10 locations around Colorado.

"The addition of Harbert Lumber will enable ProBuild to service the growing needs of our customers in Colorado, particularly in the mountain towns where we have not had a robust presence until now," said Bill Myrick, president and CEO of ProBuild. "Within each market, ProBuild will combine local market expertise with the strength and scale of a national industry leader to continue delivering on the needs of our customers and partners."
Harbert Lumber has four facilities within Colorado: Grand Junction, Aspen, Steamboat Springs, and Glenwood Springs, the magazine said,

Zep sales increase 15% in Q2

Industrial marets helped drive sales

Zep, Inc. a producer of cleaning and maintenance solutions,reported today that revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2011 increased approximately 15% to $146.8 million, compared with $127.4 million in the same period of the prior year. Earnings before interest, income tax, depreciation, and amortization expenses and excluding restructuring, special items, and acquisition-related expenses (adjusted EBITDA) totaled $9.9 million, an increase of $4.3 million or 76% from the second quarter of fiscal 2010.

John K. Morgan, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said in a press release: "We are encouraged by the quarter's top-line results as we begin to see improving trends throughout our business. The business delivered significant top- and bottom-line expansion due to continued strong performance from our acquired platforms as well as growth in our legacy operations. Revenue from a number of the end markets we serve - specifically industrial, food and transportation - showed noteworthy improvement when compared to the year-earlier period. We are particularly pleased to be seeing a return to organic growth as a number of key initiatives are beginning to bear fruit. Adjusted EPS improvement of more than 60% illustrates the dedication of our associates' to focus on top-line growth initiatives while controlling cost during a prolonged economic recovery."

Mr. Morgan continued, "We made significant progress preparing our operations to further integrate the Waterbury business. We completed, four months ahead of schedule, a new, three-year collective bargaining agreement for the Atlanta manufacturing and distribution locations. This milestone and other operational improvements prepare the business for anticipated increased demand and clear the way for the final steps of integrating the Waterbury production into our existing facilities."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Apax Partners acquires Activant and Epicor Solutions

The combined company will have 30,000 customers; $825 million in revenue

Activant Solutions Inc., a provider of ERP and point-of-sale software serving mid-market retailers and distributors, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Apax Partners, a private equity firm with a history of technology investment. Activant is currently owned by investment funds affiliated with Hellman & Friedman LLC, Thoma Bravo, LLC and JMI Equity, and by management.

Apax also announced today that it is has entered into a definitive agreement under which funds advised by Apax will acquire Epicor Software Corporation (NASDAQ: EPIC), a provider of enterprise business software solutions for the mid-market and the divisions of global 1000 companies. Apax intends to combine Activant with Epicor to create one of the largest global providers of enterprise applications focused on the manufacturing, distribution, services and retail sectors. Following completion of the merger, the combined company will be called Epicor Software Corporation.

"This transaction is extremely positive for Activant’s customers, employees and investors alike," said Pervez Qureshi, Activant president and CEO. “Our market leadership and expertise in distribution perfectly complements Epicor’s expertise in the manufacturing and services sectors. Together, Activant and Epicor’s retail business solutions can now cover the full spectrum of retailing − from small hardlines retailers, to national specialty softgoods and apparel chains, to global general merchandise department stores. Additionally, with Epicor’s worldwide infrastructure, we will have the opportunity to service and support Activant products internationally, which is very important as our customers compete in an increasingly global business environment.”

“With Apax, we are partnering with one of the premier investment firms in the world and one that is very much focused on growth and delivering value to the customers of its portfolio companies,” continued Qureshi. “The combined company will have over 30,000 customers, $825 million in annual revenues, and the most visionary business application software and vertical industry expertise in the market today. Apax is committed to growing the businesses in which they invest and has an excellent track record of working as a strategic partner with management to build high-growth companies.”

Under the terms of the agreement, all of Activant’s outstanding shares and stock options will be acquired for cash. Upon completion of the transaction all of
Activant’s outstanding 9-1/2% Senior Subordinated Notes will be redeemed and Activant’s senior secured indebtedness will be repaid. Apax has received debt commitment letters from Bank of America, N.A. and Royal Bank of Canada to provide the debt necessary to close the acquisitions. The acquisition of Activant is conditioned upon the concurrent closing of Apax’s acquisition of Epicor, the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary closing conditions. Activant expects that the acquisitions will close by the end of the second calendar quarter of this year.

"We are extremely excited to be bringing together two of the premier enterprise software companies to create a global market leader,” said Jason Wright, a partner at Apax Partners. “Activant and Epicor are both true innovators and extremely well positioned in the enterprise applications software space. Both Epicor and Activant customers will benefit from the combined entity’s increased scale, solutions portfolio and expanded service offerings. Epicor will gain access to significant additional domain expertise, particularly in hardlines retail, automotive and wholesale distribution, while Activant will benefit from an accelerated roadmap to international operations and additional supply chain and manufacturing functionality.”

“In addition to the immediate product and service portfolio enhancements,” Wright continued, “both companies’ customers will further benefit from the strong financial backing of Apax Partners and our commitment to building the new Epicor into the global leader for enterprise business applications in manufacturing, distribution, retail and services. We look forward to partnering with the management team and to providing the resources and support that can accelerate the growth and expansion of the business and the value it creates globally.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ITW, others respond to Japan disasters

Supply chain companies support humanitarian efforts, keep tabs on situation in Japan following earthquake and tsunami

Uncertainty still looms about the long-term effects of Japan’s recent natural disasters and ensuing nuclear crisis on the global supply chain. Product shortages, higher prices, and logistics problems threaten some industries, such as electronic component manufacturing and distribution, as others wait to see if there will be a trickle-down effect from production slow-downs in industries such as automotive and technology. In the meantime, many manufacturers and distributors remain focused on the humanitarian efforts needed to help Japan recover.

Diversified manufacturer ITW recently donated $250,000 to the Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Fund and said it will provide a 3 to 1 Matching Gift Program for employee donations.

In a similar move, electronics distributor Arrow Electronics, recently pledged to match its employees’ first $100,000 in donations to designated crisis-recovery charities at work in Japan.

Also in the electronics distribution space, British giant Premier Farnell was the first to launch an informational micro-site devoted to the Japan tragedies on its element14 online community. The site includes updates from electronic component manufacturers located in Japan, as well as those that source products from Japan, along with news, humanitarian support information, and discussion forums.

Distributors of electronic components are watching the situation carefully, since Japan produces a large portion of the world’s semiconductors and related items. Roughly 40% of the world’s NAND flash memory and 15% of its DRAM are produced in Japan, for example.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oracle may bid for Lawson Software

Report says other bidders may also emerge

A news report by today said that the Oracle Corp. may make a bid for Lawson Software, outbidding Infor and Golden Gate Capital’s offer of $1.8 billion.

Lawson Software, which counts billionaire investor Carl Icahn as one of its biggest shareholders, has risen 4.4 percent above the offer of $11.25 a share from Infor and Golden Gate Capital disclosed March 11, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oracle, the second-biggest seller of business applications software, may buy Lawson, whose clients include Safeway Inc. and Volvo AB, Soleil Securities Corp.

Oracle stands to profit from Lawson Software’s medical records and supply-chain management businesses, which analysts estimate will help push the St. Paul, Minnesota-based company’s earnings to a record this year, Bloomberg said. A bidding contest would also increase Icahn’s windfall from his 10.9 percent stake in Lawson Software, which currently represents a 51 percent gain, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Friday, March 25, 2011

H.B. Fuller sales rise 9.7% in Q1

Gross profit margins affected by increased raw material costs

H.B. Fuller, a provider of adhesives, sealants, paints and other specialty chemical products, today reported Q1 revenue of 339.5 million, up 9.7 percent versus the first quarter of 2010.

Net income for the first quarter of 2011 was $14.4 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, versus $19.0 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, in last year's first quarter.

Higher average selling prices, higher volume and acquisitions positively impacted net revenue growth by 6.8, 2.2 and 1.7 percentage points, respectively, the company said. Foreign currency translation reduced net revenue growth by 1.0 percentage point. Organic revenue grew by 9.0 percent year-over-year. On a sequential basis, net revenue dropped approximately 6 percent relative to the fourth quarter of 2010, in-line with typical seasonal patterns.

Gross profit margin was down approximately 300 basis points versus the first quarter of 2010, primarily due to the cumulative effect of escalating raw material costs over the past year. Gross profit margin improved by 20 basis points versus the previous quarter as a combination of product reformulation and pricing actions offset ongoing raw material cost increases.

"We are pleased with the results of the first quarter," said Jim Owens, H. B. Fuller president and chief executive officer. "We continued our growth momentum with organic revenue up 9 percent from last year. While raw material costs continued to rise in the quarter, our gross margin improved sequentially due to a combination of pricing actions, reformulation and product substitution that were executed efficiently by the entire organization. We have bumped up our full-year revenue guidance to between 10 percent and 12 percent above last year primarily to reflect additional price increases required to recover material costs. We met our expectations for profitability in the first quarter and, as a result, we are reaffirming the full-year earnings per share guidance that we provided at the beginning of the fiscal year."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Durable goods orders drop 0.9 percent

Machinery orders fall 4.2 percent

Lower orders for machinery and defense related products helped lead to a 0.9 percent drop in durable goods in February, the biggest decrease in four months, the U.S. Commerce Department said today.

Machinery orders fell 4.2% to $26.6 billion. Orders for major defense items dropped 24.8% to $8.3 billion.

January durable goods orders were revised up to a 3.6% increase. The government originally reported that total orders rose 3.2% in January.

Inventories of durable goods climbed 0.9% last month, the 14th consecutive increase.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Housing starts plunged in February

Starts drop off sharply from January numbers

Construction of new houses and apartments dropped 22.5 percent in February to 479,000annualized units, the Commerce Department reported today. The decline from January was the biggest one-month drop in starts since March 1984.

Starts are at their lowest level since the record low of 477,000 recorded in April 2009.

The report comes after starts increased 18.4% in January, primarily due to multi-family starts. Starts of new single-family homes fell by 11.8% to 375,000 in February, while starts of large apartment units fell 46.1% to 104,000. Building permits fell 8.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 517,000. This is the lowest level of permits on record.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Business executives optimistic about economy

Two-thirds of respondents expect economy to improve in next six months

U.S. business leaders are the most optimistic they have been since before the recession, according to Grant Thornton LLP’s most recent Business Optimism Index, a quarterly survey of U.S. business leaders.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) believe the U.S. economy will improve in the next six months, compared with 47% in November. Half of the business leaders (49%) report that their company plans to increase staff in the next six months (up from 43%), while only 10% plan to decrease staff (down from 15%) The Index itself is up 6.7 points to 69.7, the highest it has been since 2004.

Nearly nine in 10 of the business leaders (87%) are also optimistic about their own businesses, with only 13% reporting that they are pessimistic about their companies’ growth over the next six months.

Eaton acquires Internormen Technology Group

Deal will strengthen Eaton's global business

Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corporation today announced it has agreed to acquire Internormen Technology Group, a company specializing in in hydraulic filtration and instrumentation products. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions and terms were not disclosed.

“The sale of our family business is a positive step towards further global growth,” said Helmut Franger, founder of Internormen Technology. “Eaton is the perfect partner for us to jointly open new markets and develop new products and solutions“The sale of our family business is a positive step towards further global growth.”

“Internormen Technology has been a proven leader in advanced filtration technologies for almost 40 years,” said William R. VanArsdale, president of Eaton’s Hydraulics Group, which includes the hydraulic, filtration and golf grip businesses. “This acquisition will significantly expand Eaton’s filtration product portfolio with technically advanced products and systems for mobile, industrial hydraulic and process applications. Internormen has a leadership position in fast growing markets such as wind power and a well-established presence in emerging economies such as Brazil, India and China. Its global footprint strengthens our regional presence in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.”

The company, which is based in Altlussheim, Germany, has sales and distribution subsidiaries in India, China, Brazil and the United States. Internormen employs approximately 360 people and had 2010 sales of more than $55 million.

Internormen Technology has been owned by the Franger family since its foundation in 1972. After completion of the sale of the company, the sons of the founder of the company, Stefan and Bernhard Franger, who held leadership positions at Internormen, will assume similar management responsibilities at Eaton.

“The sale of our family business is a positive step towards further global growth,” said Helmut Franger, founder of Internormen Technology. “Eaton is the perfect partner for us to jointly open new markets and develop new products and solutions.”

Eaton Corporation is a diversified power management company with 2010 sales of $13.7 billion. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2011, Eaton is a global technology leader in electrical components and systems for power quality, distribution and control; hydraulics components, systems and services for industrial and mobile equipment; aerospace fuel, hydraulics and pneumatic systems for commercial and military use; and truck and automotive drivetrain and powertrain systems for performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has approximately 70,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 150 countries.

Lawson Software receives buyout offer

Software provider Infor and Golden Gate Capital reportedly offering #1.8 billion in unsolicited offer

Lawson Software has received an unsolicited $1.8 billion proposal to be bought by Infor and Golden Gate Capital, the Minneapols-St. Paul Business Journal is reporting.

The offer was for $11.25 per share in cash, which translates into about $1.8 billion.

St. Paul-based Lawson said it's discussing the unsolicited proposal with the potential buyers, the news site said.

If a deal is completed, Lawson would be the second software company acquired by Infor in recent years. Infor bought Minneapolis-based SoftBrands in 2009.

Berkshire Hathaway buys Lubrizol

The transaction for the specialty chemical company is valued at $9.7 billion

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and The Lubrizol Corporation today announced a definitive agreement for Berkshire Hathaway to acquire 100% of outstanding Lubrizol shares for $135 per share in an all-cash transaction. The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the board of directors of each company, is valued at approximately $9.7 billion, including approximately $0.7 billion in net debt, making it one of the largest acquisitions in Berkshire Hathaway history.

This price represents a 28 percent premium over Lubrizol's closing price on Friday, March 11, 2011, and is also 18 percent higher than Lubrizol's all-time high share closing price.

"Lubrizol is exactly the sort of company with which we love to partner - the global leader in several market applications run by a talented CEO, James Hambrick," said Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chief executive officer. "Our only instruction to James - just keep doing for us what you have done so successfully for your shareholders."

James Hambrick, Lubrizol chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, "This transaction provides compelling value to our shareholders and is a clear endorsement of the growth and diversification success Lubrizol has achieved. We are very excited to have the opportunity to become part of the Berkshire Hathaway family. We believe its philosophy of supporting long-term global investments in technology, assets and employees will enhance execution of our growth strategies. Such a long-term commitment is more important than ever in today's global economy to deliver true market-leading products and services for our customers."

The transaction is subject to the approval of Lubrizol's shareholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the expiration of waiting periods and the receipt of approvals under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and applicable non-U.S. merger control regulations. Berkshire Hathaway and Lubrizol expect the transaction to be completed during the third quarter of 2011.

After the close of the transaction, Lubrizol will operate as a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway and will continue to provide innovative technology, outstanding service and superior global supply chain support to its customers. Lubrizol will remain located at its Wickliffe, Ohio, headquarters and will continue to be led by its current management team.

Citi and Evercore Partners are acting as financial advisors to Lubrizol, and Lubrizol's legal counsel is Jones Day. Berkshire Hathaway's transaction counsel is Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP.

The Lubrizol Corporation is a specialty chemical company that produces and supplies technologies to customers in the global transportation, industrial and consumer markets. These technologies include lubricant additives for engine oils, other transportation-related fluids and industrial lubricants, as well as fuel additives for gasoline and diesel fuel. In addition, Lubrizol makes ingredients and additives for personal care products and pharmaceuticals; specialty materials, including plastics technology; and performance coatings in the form of specialty resins and additives.

With headquarters in Wickliffe, Ohio, The Lubrizol Corporation owns and operates manufacturing facilities in 17 countries, as well as sales and technical offices around the world. Founded in 1928, Lubrizol has approximately 6,900 employees worldwide. Revenues for 2010 were $5.4 billion.

Four injured in explosion at Bostik plant

Bostik is a well-known manufacturer of adhesives and sealants for industrial markets

An explosion and four-alarm blaze ripped through the Bostik manufacturing plant in Middleton, Mass. Sunday, rocking homes for several miles and sending four workers to the hospital. Bostik is an adhesives and sealant manufacturer and sells its products into construction, industrial and a number of other markets.

None of the four employees were believed to be seriously injured. State environmental said they were concerned about chemical contamination to the nearby Ipswich River.

Firefighters from across the area, along with State Police and emergency management officials, responded shortly after 7:30 p.m. to reports of an explosion at or near 211 Boston St.

Two Bostik buildings were reportedly heavily damaged.

The cause of the explosion at the Middleton facility was not immediately apparent, authorities said.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Engel named chairman of WESCO International

Engel will replace Roy W. Haley

WESCO International, one of the largest industrial and electrical distributors in the country, has named President and CEO John J. Engel as chairman of the $5.1 billion company.

Engel’s new role is effective May 25, when he will replace current chairman Roy W. Haley.

The move is part of a succession plan the company announced in 2009 when Engel was selected to replace Haley as CEO. Haley had agreed to continue to serve as chairman until his term ends in May.

“I have had the distinct privilege of being associated with WESCO and I could not be more proud of our Company and the quality of our organization,” Haley said in a written statement. “John Engel joined WESCO almost seven years ago, and he has done an outstanding job positioning WESCO for continued growth and profitability over the long term. I am confident that the management team, under John’s leadership, will be highly successful.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Graybar’s sales up 5% in 2010

Net income rises 13% on sales of $4.6 billion

Electrical, communications and data networking products distributor Graybar posted solid sales and earnings results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2010 this week.

Fourth-quarter sales rose nearly 15% compared to the same period last year, while full-year sales rose more than 5% to $4.6 billion. Full-year earnings were up 13% to $42.3 million, the company said.

“Like many businesses, we were unsure what to expect from the economy at the beginning of 2010. After a slow start, momentum began to build in our markets and we capitalized on this opportunity. I am very proud of how our employees focused on serving our customers to achieve growth,” said Robert A. Reynolds, Jr., Graybar’s chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Reynolds added, “Our performance in 2010 resulted from improving conditions and a consistent focus on our long-term view of our business. Our financial condition remains very stable, with low debt levels and higher earnings. The company is well positioned for anticipated growth in 2011 as we continue to work to our customers' advantage.”

Based in St. Louis, employee-owned Graybar has nearly 240 distribution facilities throughout North America.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Arrow/Samsung announce new global distribution agreement

Arrow to provide distribution and design-in services

Arrow Electronics, Inc. (NYSE:ARW) today announced a global distribution agreement with Samsung Electro-Mechanics, a leading manufacturer of electronic components and technologies.

Arrow will provide distribution and design-in services for Samsung Electro-Mechanics worldwide, excluding Korea, for Samsung's broad product offering in the passives area of capacitors, resistors, inductors and crystals.

“Samsung is an innovator and a globally recognized leader in technology and electronics,” said Peter Kong, president of global components for Arrow Electronics. “Together with Arrow's strength in supply chain services, value-added capabilities, and global reach, this relationship will help expand our ability to serve our customers’ diverse needs around the world.”

“Samsung is engaging with Arrow Electronics in a global franchise agreement because of their market position with global customers, excellent sales and technical support and logistics expertise,” said Dr. CJ Choi, executive vice president/chief of business unit for Samsung Electro-Mechanics. “We are looking forward to reaching new markets with our technology into Arrow’s global customer base.”

Small business hiring increases slowly

Hiring outlook remains solid; price cutting ending

February posted positive numbers in job growth, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, which reports a modest increase of .4 points in its latest Index of Small-Business Optimism, bringing the monthly reading to 94.5. Most notably, hiring and future plans to hire were solid and hopefully presage a string of steady job creation months this year. While historically weak, these relative gains signal good news for a sector still deeply encumbered by weak sales. Still, only a net 9 percent of small-business owners surveyed expect that business
conditions will improve over the next six months.

“This is not a reading that characterizes a strongly rebounding economy,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “But it is the third best reading since the fourth quarter of 2009 when the economy was expanding rapidly. So, it gives us cause for some real optimism. Apparently the future is looking brighter for a few more small-business owners, although much will depend on what Congress does this year.”

The other significant change in February’s reading is the end of a long period of price cutting. This signals a return in the months ahead to increases in average prices as supply adjustments restore pricing power. More small businesses reported that their inventories were “too low” as opposed to “too high,” indicating, also, an end to the inventory adjustment cycle which began when consumers started saving and cut consumption spending by nearly half a trillion dollars. Going forward, there will continue to be upward pressure on prices as demand strengthens. As growth improves, price hikes will stick as owners try to restore profitability.

Some other highlights of February’s Optimism Index include:

-Access to credit still appears to be a low priority for small businesses, with only 4 percent reporting financing as their top business problem. Overall, 92 percent reported that all their credit needs were met or that they were not interested in borrowing. Eight percent reported that not all of their credit needs were satisfied, and 51 percent said they did not want a loan (12 percent did not answer the question and might be presumed to be uninterested in borrowing as well).

-Reports of positive earnings trends improved, albeit only one point in February, registering a net negative 27 percent. This slight increase shows that far more owners report that earnings are deteriorating quarter on quarter, instead of rising.

-Although consumer spending appears to have risen at a robust 4 percent rate in the fourth quarter, small businesses did not appear to have benefited much from the spending gains. The net percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reporting higher nominal sales over the past three months was unchanged at a net negative 11 percent. Unadjusted, 21 percent of all owners reported higher sales (last three months compared to prior three months, unchanged) while 37 percent reported lower sales (up one point).

-Overall, sales trends are not yet supportive of a widespread recovery in the small-business sector. Usually a leader in a recovery, housing starts have remained flat, and can be held accountable for much of the missing new jobs.

The NFIB report is based on the responses of 774 randomly sampled small businesses in NFIB’s membership, surveyed throughout the month of February.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

84 Lumber closes 10 more locations

Most locations are in the Southeast

84 Lumber, one of the country’s largest construction supply companies, has closed 10 more facilities today, seven of them in the Southeast, according to Pro Sales magazine.

The company shut these locations:
 Brooksville, Fla.
 Deland, Fla.
 Fort Pierce, Fla.
 Winder, Ga.
 South Haven, Miss.
 Springfield, Mo.
 Farmingdale, N.J.
 Tulsa, Okla.
 Anderson, S.C.
 Karns, Tenn.

"These 10 stores have consistently underperformed for quite some time, and while we do see some positive movement in the housing andconstruction markets overall on a national basis, these markets continue to either lag severely with no sign of a significant rebound that fits ourbusiness model, or we have multiple stores in the region and we can handle the existing store business from other locations," Jeff Nobers, 84's vice president of marketing and public relations, wrote iin an e-mail to ProSales. The company plans to sell the properties.

The closure reports come about two weeks after 84 Lumber closed branches in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Richmond, Va. The company now has 265 locations.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Manufacturing, construction added jobs in February

Unemployment rate finally drops below 9 percent

The manufacturing and construction sectors each added 33,000 jobs in February, the Labor Department reported today as non-farm payrolls rose by 192,000. This is especially good news for the construction sector, which had lost 22,000 jobs in January. Many economists had said that loss was due to weather conditions.

Almost all of the manufacturing gain occurred in the durable goods industries, including machinery (+9,000) and fabricated metal products (+7,000).

Manufacturing has added 195,000 jobs since its most recent trough in December 2009; durable goods manufacturing added 233,000 jobs during this period.

The U.S. unemployment fell below 9% for the first time in nearly two years.
The January number was revised to show an increase of 63,000 jobs from a previous estimate of 36,000.

The unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate household survey, fell to 8.9% last month.

Eaton Corp. to move Milwaukee division

Construction expected to begin this summer

Eaton Corp. will move its division headquarters from Milwaukee's north side to Wauwatosa, the Milwaukee Journal Bulletin reports. Eaton has selected the Milwaukee County Research Park, at Highway 45 and Watertown Plank Road, for its electrical sector Milwaukee operations and technical center, now at 4201 N. 27th St.

Construction is to begin this summer on the 90,000-square-foot building, Mayor Jill Didier announced Wednesday. The building is to be completed by mid-2012.

The move will shift 145 employees to the research park, and "there is potential for future employment growth," Didier said.

Eaton executives for years had considered a move from the outdated building, which was built in 1965. Eaton spokesman Todd Parks said the new building will allow the company to operate more efficiently.

"The choice of this site reaffirms Eaton's commitment to the state of Wisconsin and the region, and provides us with a location capable of supporting our continued growth," said Matt Lorenz, Eaton's industrial control division vice president and general manager, in a statement.

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