Masco reports wider loss in 1st quarter

Masco Corp. said its loss widened in the first quarter, as the manufacturer of home improvement and building products saw sales soften amid lingering weakness in new home construction and remodeling. The company reported a loss of $46 million, or 13 cents a share, for the three months ended March 31. That compares with a loss of $7 million, or 2 cents a share, in the prior-year quarter. The company reported the results Monday after the markets closed. Excluding rationalization charges and other one-time items, Masco posted a loss of 5 cents a share, the company said. The results fell short of analysts’ consensus estimate for a loss of 2 cents a share, according to FactSet.

Quarterly net revenue fell 4 percent to about $1.77 billion, from $1.85 billion a year earlier. Analysts had forecast revenue of $1.76 billion. Masco’s North American sales fell 7 percent, while international sales rose 4 percent.

Depressed new home construction, homeowners deferring major home repair and remodeling plans and commodity cost pressures contributed to the weaker sales, the company said. Still, excluding the company’s cabinet products segment, which it is exiting, its sales would have been down just 1 percent versus the same period last year, which got a boost in housing activity due to a temporary federal tax credit for homebuyers.

Masco said plumbing products sales were strong in the first quarter, while the company’s North American cabinet business and installation business were able to gain market share since the fourth quarter.

Looking ahead, Masco said it expects business will strengthen in the second half of the year, but noted that still-weak job growth, higher energy costs and uncertainty over a housing recovery remain a factor.

Masco shares gained 2 cents to $13.40 in afternoon trading.