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Friday, August 24, 2012

Watching The Rails For Clues On 2nd Half Economic Growth

The railcar data provide clues about recent trends in economic activity. Intermodal shipments have leveled off, signaling some cooling in international trade, while building materials shipments are gaining strength.

The most dramatic turnaround in railroad traffic has been in shipments of
lumber, which have gained momentum over the past year and are currently
up 16.1 percent. The increase reflects gains in homebuilding. The leading
states for lumber shipments are Oregon, Washington, and South Carolina.

New Home Sales Rebound in July

New home sales rebounded 3.6 percent in July, essentially reversing the previous month’s drop. Sales bounced back in the Northeast and rose slightly in the Midwest but slid ever so slightly in the South and West.

Existing Home Sales Rebound in July

Existing home sales increased 2.3 percent in July to a 4.47 million-unit pace. The share of distressed sales fell and is now 24 percent of total sales. On a year-ago basis, inventory continued to decline.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Video: Monthly Economic Outlook

Sustained Growth, especially in housing

The Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose 0.4 percent in July, suggesting that economic growth will improve going forward, especially in housing. The coincident and lagging measures both edged higher.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Johns Manville has acquired IIG and their mineral wool product line.

DENVER, August 7, 2012 – Johns Manville (JM), a Berkshire Hathaway company and global building products manufacturer, today announced it has purchased Industrial Insulation Group, LLC (IIG), a manufacturer of insulation for industrial, commercial and fireproofing applications.
IIG was formed in 2002 as a joint venture between JM and The Calsilite Group. JM previously owned a minority interest in IIG, but will now operate the company as a standalone LLC wholly owned by JM. IIG’s product line complements JM’s portfolio of insulation products, allowing JM to offer an even broader continuum of solutions that meet the insulation requirements for any project.
“Expanding JM’s interest in IIG is another way we are addressing customers’ needs by offering the industry’s most complete line of insulation products,” said Todd Raba, JM chairman, president and CEO. “IIG has a consistent track record of product performance, in keeping with the quality our customers expect from Johns Manville. We look forward to exploring opportunities to build on IIG’s strong market position and expand its product portfolio.”
IIG manufactures a wide range of insulation products for use in industrial, commercial and fireproofing applications and offers a unique “good, better, best” portfolio of high-temperature insulation, ranging from mineral wool to perlite to calcium silicate. Each product is designed to meet even the most demanding applications.

IIG industrial mineral wool insulation is available as pre-formed pipe insulation, industrial boards, metal mesh blankets, flexible batts and pipe and tank wrap, including unique MPT, a range of products that includes v-groove pipe insulations and other products such as fittings, metal mesh blankets and more.

Thermo-12® Gold calcium silicate products are available in a range of sizes and forms and deliver exceptional strength and durability with low thermal conductivity for high-temperature applications. Additionally, this project contains a corrosion inhibitor, referred to as XOX.

IIG also offers an expanded perlite product with a built-in corrosion inhibitor. Combined with resistance to water absorption, Sproule WR-1200® effectively minimizes corrosion to outside surfaces of pipe and equipment while providing excellent thermal performance.
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IIG’s commercial mineral wool insulation line, made from basalt volcanic rock and available in batts and boards, provides fire safety in conjunction with thermal control and sound protection.

IIG Super Firetemp® board is a noncombustible fireproofing board used in assemblies requiring one- to four-fire ratings and is capable of withstanding temperatures in excess of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

MinWool-1200® insulation, a fire resistant mineral wool, is available in a wide variety of shapes and forms for industrial and commercial applications.

IIG’s accessory offerings include a variety of adhesives, finishing cement and coatings, each specifically designed to complement IIG insulation products.
“With our increased investment in IIG, JM will be able to offer the most complete line of mechanical insulation solutions to a broader commercial and industrial customer base,” said Dave Skelly, director of sales for JM’s Performance Materials business. “We look forward to continuing IIG’s tradition of superior product performance and customer service.”
JM does not plan to significantly change the operations at IIG. Existing IIG plants located in Brunswick, Ga.; Grambling, La.; Fruita, Colo.; Phenix City, Ala.; and Houston, Texas are a key part of JM’s future commercial and industrial strategy. IIG Chairman and Chief Executive Philippe Delouvrier will remain involved with the company in an advisory role.
“IIG is pleased to join the Johns Manville and Berkshire Hathaway families,” said Delouvrier. “This next chapter in IIG history sets us up for continued success with greater opportunity for growth in existing and new markets.”
“Philippe Delouvrier and his team have made IIG a recognized leader in industrial insulation,” said Fred Stephan, vice president and general manager of JM’s Insulation Systems business. “We’re delighted Philippe will remain involved with the business as we work to build on the success his team has established.”

USG Announces Agreement in Principle for Sale of European Businesses

USG Announces Agreement in Principle for Sale of European Businesses

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 7, 2012-- USG Corporation (NYSE:USG), a leading building products company, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of its wholly-owned European business operations to affiliates of Gebr. Knauf Verwaltungsgesellschaft KG for approximately $80 million. That amount is subject to adjustment based on working capital and net debt levels at closing.

The businesses being sold include the manufacture and distribution of Donn® brand ceiling grid and SHEETROCK® brand finishing compounds throughout Europe, Russia and Turkey.

“While USG’s European operations have been performing well, we prefer to focus our investment in higher growth markets,” said James S. Metcalf, Chairman, President and CEO. “We contacted more than 60 potentially interested parties, including both strategic buyers and private equity firms, and decided to sell the businesses following a thorough evaluation that produced strong interest. We’re pleased with the value we are receiving for this group of assets.”

Closing of the sale is subject to receipt of necessary governmental approvals and other customary closing conditions. Assuming receipt of the necessary approvals and satisfaction of these closing conditions, closing is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of this year.

Eagle Materials Inc. (American Gypsum) Reports Strong Volume and Earnings Improvement in the First Quarter

Eagle Materials Inc. Reports Strong Volume and Earnings Improvement in the First Quarter

DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Eagle Materials Inc. (NYSE: EXP) today reported financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 ended June 30, 2012. Notable items for the quarter include (all comparisons, unless noted, are with the prior-year's first quarter):

* Revenues of $154.0 million, up 29%
* Segment operating earnings of $29.1 million, up 198%
* Net earnings per diluted share of $0.31 versus $0.02

Gypsum Wallboard and Paperboard

Gypsum Wallboard and Paperboard's first quarter operating earnings of $19.3 million increased 1,421% from $1.3 million in same quarter last year. Improved Gypsum Wallboard net sales prices were the primary driver of the quarterly earnings increase. Additional contribution came from improved sales volumes in both wallboard and paperboard.

Gypsum Wallboard and Paperboard revenues for the first quarter totaled $89.6 million, a 27% increase from the same quarter a year ago. The revenue increase reflects higher average Gypsum Wallboard net sales prices and higher Gypsum Wallboard and Paperboard sales volumes slightly offset by lower Paperboard net sales prices. Gypsum Wallboard sales volume for the quarter of 457 million square feet (MMSF) represents an 11% increase from the same quarter last year. The average Paperboard net sales price this quarter was $502.89 per ton, 1% lower than the same quarter a year ago. Paperboard sales volume for the quarter was 60,000 tons, 5% higher than the same quarter a year ago.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Good News on the Housing Front

You may have noticed during the past two months that national media coverage of housing has turned a corner. NAHB has been doing its part by continually talking with the press to give our perspective on key housing data -- new-home sales, housing starts, national home prices, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) and the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) – which have all shown measurable signs of improvement during the past several months.

The HMI, which measures builder confidence in the single-family market, now stands at its highest level since March of 2007. Meanwhile, the IMI, which identifies local housing markets that have shown measurable and sustained improvement, has jumped from 12 markets when the index was first unveiled last September to 84 as of July. Moreover, production of single-family homes is now the strongest it has been since 2010 due to rising consumer demand brought on by improving market conditions.

Indeed, government data reveals that housing has gone from a net drag on the economy to a net positive and that residential home construction is now starting to reassume its traditional role of helping to move the economy forward following a recession.

A link (log on to has been provided to give you access to these positive media reports on housing and I encourage you to use this data as a sales tool to employ with your customers. Potential home buyers have been waiting on the sidelines for the market to show consistent signs of improvement.

Use this
positive news coverage to make the case to your customers that housing is on the rebound, that home prices are stabilizing and that now is the best time to purchase a newly-built home while prices and interest rates are so favorable.

If you would like additional help or have any questions, please contact
Joseph McGaw at the NAHB Sales and Marketing Council at 800-368-5242 x 8693 or email the NAHB Communications Office at