Day: January 22, 2007

HD Board May Meet With Activist Investor This Week

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reported this weekend that Home Depot board members are expected to visit this week with investor Ralph Whitworth, head of Relational Investors, which owns 1.3% of HD stock. Whitworth has been critical of HD's strategy recently and says that big changes are necessary to boost the stock price post-Nardelli. Bob Nardelli recently resigned his post as CEO.

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Whitworth has been critical of HD's supply business, telling CNBC's Closing Bell in January: What we believe is that management should be focused like laser beams on the core business, improving the customer experience, ...

Wolseley Feels Impact of Housing Slowdown

UK-based Wolseley plc, global distributor of plumbing and heating products to professional contractors and supplier of building materials, reported it continues to be affected by the slowdown in housing and lower lumber prices in the U.S.

For the first five months to Dec. 31, 2006, Wolseley sales increased 15%, with 3% organic growth. Profit was slightly lower. In constant currency, revenue and trading profit would be about 5% higher. Results for the first six months will be reported in mid-March.

Wolseley says the housing slowdown effect was offset by good organic growth in the U.S. plumbing and heating business (Ferguson), an improved performance in continental Europe and contributions from acquisitions.

In the U.S., new housing starts have ...

Eaton Sales Up 12% in 2006

Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corp. reported sales for 2006 were up 12% from 2005, and profit was up 18%. Sales were $12.4 billion.

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Fourth quarter sales were up 10% to $3.1 billion, with profit up 15%.

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Segment Results
Fourth quarter sales for Electrical were $1.1 billion, up 9% over 2005. End markets grew about 2.5% for electrical, reflecting a slowdown from the growth rate in early 2006. In 2007, Eaton expects 4% growth, with nonresidential markets offsetting a decline in residential markets.

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In Fluid Power, fourth quarter sales were $985 million, 17% above the same period in 2005. Organic growth was 7%. Fluid Power markets grew 6%, with global hydraulics shipments up 7%, ...