USG's specialty building-products distribution arm L&W Supply improved its operating loss during the fourth quarter to $10 million from a loss of $15 million a year earlier as quarterly sales rose 6% to $282 million for the same period. Same-store net sales jumped 13% during the same period. For the year, L&W continued to climb out of the red, halving its 2011 operating loss of $68 million to post a loss of $33 million in 2012. The division's net annual sales rose 8% from 2011 to $1.14 billion.
In a call with analysts Wednesday morning, USG president and CEO James Metcalf said that L&W "remains on the path to profitability," on the tails of a corporate shakeup that closed more than 100 locations since 2008—including 13 in the fourth quarter of 2012—as the specialty distributor redirected its focus to commercial contractors, which currently make up two-thirds of its customer base. L&W credits that shift for a 13% increase in same-store net sales during the fourth quarter.
"We're very well-positioned from a cost standpoint, we're very well-positioned from a value-proposition [standpoint], for getting paid for what we do," Metcalf said. "We want to get a greater share of wallet from our commercial contractors.
Eagle Materials Corp.: Higher wallboard prices and improved sales volumes drove a third-quarter operating gain of $16.8 million among the company's gypsum wallboard products, up from $228,000 a year earlier. Wallboard sales spiked by nearly 50% to $80.7 million for the same period. Eagle reported a 23% increase in wallboard sales volumes during the third quarter from a year earlier to 519 million square feet while wallboard prices increased 27% to average $120.55 per MSF for the same period.
Next Week: Simpson Manufacturing, L.P. Building Products, Beacon Roofing Supply, BlueLinx
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