Home improvement and building products company Masco Corporation reported a quarterly loss of 23 cents per share, after net sales declined by 26%. Masco estimates that 2009 housing starts will decline 40 percent to approximately 550,000 units, and that consumer spending for home improvement will be at depressed levels in the near-term. These factors are expected to result in a 2009 sales decline of 20 to 25 percent year over year, which is worse than the company's previous guidance of a sales decline in the mid-to-high teens. Due to the extremely challenging market conditions, full year guidance was given for a loss of 15 to 35 cents per share. To conserve cash, the company slashed its dividend to an annual rate of 30 cents per share, down from 94 cents per share. Shares of Masco were down 13% in afternoon trading today.
Specialty metal and plastics company A.M. Castle reported quarterly earnings of 2 cents per share, down from 62 cents in the same quarter of last year. The company suspended its dividend payment in order to focus on debt reduction and short-term liquidity. The news sent shares lower by 17% this afternoon to around 9 dollars and 50 cents a share. A.M Castle traded north of 30 dollars just one year ago.
CEO Michael Goldberg said the company continues to look for indications of economic recovery. He said while the company has seen a few positive signs in some of the macroeconomic trends, including the PMI index appearing to bottom out in December, he recognizes that the company still has a long road ahead of it.
Delphi Financial priced an overnight offering of 3 million shares of common stock, at 17 dollars and 50 cents per share. Delphi shares were trading slightly below the offering price this afternoon, at 17 dollars and 35 cents, down about 11% from yesterday's close.
Primus Guaranty was trading lower by 16% this afternoon, after the company announced that credit default swaps it had written for two asset backed securities experienced a credit event after the securities were downgraded below Caa2 by Moody's. The company will make a provision for the credit event in the first quarter. The principal amount on the downgraded securities is 15 million.
Recovery audit firm PRG-Schultz announced first quarter earnings of 8 cents per share, half of what the company earned in the same quarter last year, after revenue decreased by 19%. CEO Romil Bahl said first quarter revenues reflect the adverse impact of the downturn in the economy, particularly in the U.S. Bahl said clients' purchases in certain segments of the U.S. retail industry continue to decline and many of the company's clients' vendor partners are experiencing their own financial issues. Shares of PRG-Schultz were off over 16% to 3 dollars and 31 cents per share.
Executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles International struggled under the weight of the global financial crisis and recession, reporting a quarterly loss of 1 dollar and 15 cents per share. Revenue declined 42% as the number of executive searches in the quarter decreased 38%. Shares were down 16% in afternoon trading.
Containership company Seaspan tumbled 32% after reporting normalized earnings of 25 cents per share, down 17% from the prior year's quarter, and announcing a reduction of the quarterly dividend to 10 cents per share. Last quarter, the company paid a dividend of 47 and a half cents per share. Seaspan cited uncertainties associated with the global recession and the equity capital markets, and said that retaining cash from operations by reducing the dividend is in the long-term best interests of the company and its shareholders.
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