Door and hardware manufacturer Fortune Brands Home and Security Inc. and distributor Huttig Building Products Inc. released first quarter 2019 results recently—both showing positive movement. Fortune Brands’ sales increased 6% over the first quarter of 2018, coming in at $1.3 billion. On the distribution side of the industry, Huttig reports that millwork product sales remained consistent in the first quarter of 2019 from the first quarter of 2018, staying at $95.3 million, but the company’s sales among building products were higher, producing a 2.9% year-over-year increase.

Officials for Fortune Brands report that earnings per share (EPS) were $0.60, compared to $0.49 in the prior-year quarter, and EPS before charges/gains were $0.63, up from $0.56 the same quarter last year.

Operating income was reported at $135.6 million, an increase from the $119.4 million the prior-year quarter. Operating income before charges/gains grew 14%, from $124.3 million the same quarter of 2018 to $142 million this year.

“In the first quarter our performance was on plan, and housing market growth in the U.S. and Canada started the year out slowly, as expected,” said Chris Klein, CEO for Fortune Brands. “Our teams executed well despite the softer backdrop, and recently we have seen some signs of improving demand. Overall, we are tracking to our plan built around a more conservative market—with a soft first half start, and modest growth overall for the year,” Klein said. The company expects a modest acceleration in growth in the second half of 2019, he added.

Fortune’s doors and security sales were up 20%, or 5% excluding the recent Fiberon acquisition. Security products continued to improve in the quarter, with modest sales growth and margin improvement. Segment operating margin before charges and gains was 8.8%.

The company’s 2019 annual outlook is based on a U.S. home products market growth assumption of 2-4% and an assumption of 2-4% growth for the total global market. Fortune Brands expects full-year 2019 sales growth in the range of 6-7.5%.

Officials for Huttig said sales performance in the quarter was consistent with results in the prior year, despite lower residential construction activity and severe weather across the majority of the company’s service areas.

“Sales from our strategic growth initiatives increased nearly 14%, and while core product sales declined, they declined at a lower rate than the market, resulting in estimated combined growth above the market of more than 4% in the quarter,” said Jon Vrabely, Huttig’s president and CEO.  “Operationally, we are making progress in improving the balance sheet, but need to expedite the improvement in our margins and expense structure to achieve greater profitability.”

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