Housing Market Tracker - Housing-Related Industries Update

Includes: BRK.A, BRK.B, HNI, LCUT, LOW, WY
by: Judy Weil

Housing-Related Stocks

Berkshire Hathaway's Brick Division Buys Minnesota Brick Company. Minnesota: "In normal times, the Ochs Brick plant would be humming, workers sweating and bricks baking in 2,050-degree kilns... supporting 60 families from six nearby towns. But that was before the housing market collapsed and Minnesota's last independent brick factory shut down in October... [Now] Berkshire Hathaway's Acme Brick Co. [purchased the company on] Feb. 1 for an undisclosed price... Acme-Ochs Brick Co. is Berkshire's 24th U.S. brick plant and its first in the Upper Midwest. Ochs produces about 58 million bricks a year; Acme makes about 1.3 billion." (Beatrice Daily Sun, Mar. 17th)

Weyerhaeuser Sells Division To International Paper For $6B. "Weyerhaeuser Co. said it's selling its Containerboard Packaging and Recycling business to International Paper for $6 billion in cash. The deal includes nine containerboard mills, 72 packaging locations, 10 specialty-packaging plants, four bag and sack locations and 19 recycling locations. About 14,300 employees are affected. Weyerhaeuser (NYSE:WY) said it will use a "substantial portion" of the after-tax proceeds to pay down debt. Weyerhaeuser officials said the deal with International Paper will allow the company to concentrate on its timber and real estate activities." (Puget Sound Business Journal, Mar. 17th)

Fitch Downgrades Lowe's S-T IDR to 'F1'; Affirms L-T IDR at 'A+'; Outlook Negative. "Fitch Ratings has affirmed its ratings on Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW) as follows: Long-term Issuer Default Rating [IDR] 'A+'; Bank credit facility 'A+'; Senior notes and debentures 'A+'. In addition, the short-term IDR and commercial paper [CP] ratings have both been downgraded to 'F1' from 'F1+'. Approximately $6.7 billion of debt is affected by these actions. The Rating Outlook is Negative." (Press Release, Mar. 17th)

Dittmer Becomes New President Of HON Co. "Jerry Dittmer has been named president of The HON Company and EVP of HNI... Dittmer previously was VP and CFO of HNI Corp. (NYSE:HNI), the parent company of HON. He will report to Stan Askren, HNI’s chairman, president and CEO. He replaces Eric Jungbluth, who has resigned... HNI is the second largest office furniture manufacturer in the world and the nation’s leading manufacturer and marketer of gas and wood-burning fireplaces." (Quad City Times, Mar. 16th)

Lifetime Brands Allies with Accent Fairchild Group to Expand Presence in Canada. "Lifetime Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:LCUT) has entered into a Letter of Intent to form a strategic alliance with the Accent-Fairchild Group, Inc. [AFG] to expand the sales of Lifetime's branded kitchenware, tabletop and home decor products in Canada. Under the proposed agreement Lifetime will make available certain of its brands and products to AFG and AFG will directly service most retailers based in Canada. AFG, which formerly sold certain Lifetime products under the name of Target Home Products, will also re-brand itself as LTB Canada. The proposed arrangement will not involve any cash investment on the part of Lifetime Brands." (Trading Markets, Mar. 14th)

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