‘Challenging start’ for Hansgrohe parent Masco as Q1 earnings fall

US home-improvement giant Masco, which owns bathroom brands Hansgrohe, Axor and Hüppe, reported lower sales and earnings in the first three months of 2019.

Masco said sales were down 1% to $1.9 billion (£1.5bn) compared with the same quarter the year before, while earnings per share adjusted for one-off exceptional items decreased 2% to 44 cents per share.

Sales in the firm’s plumbing category, which includes the above bathroom brands, were flat excluding foreign currency volatility. Including foreign currency movements, sales of these products were 3% lower than the same period last year.

“We experienced a challenging start to 2019, which resulted in reduced sales and operating profits for the first quarter,” said Masco president and chief executive, Keith Allman.

“While we anticipated many of the factors that led to our results, our performance was also impacted by inventory rebalancing by certain customers and softness in some of our end markets.

“We continued to focus on creating shareholder value and returned $157m to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends during the quarter.”

Allman said the management team was “optimistic” about the remainder of the year, “as sales trends started to improve in March”.

Reaffirming full-year adjusted earnings-per-share guidance range of $2.60 to $2.80, Allman added: “We remain confident in the fundamentals of our business and will continue to execute on our strategies to create shareholder value.

“Additionally, we expect to reach a decision on our review of strategic alternatives for our cabinetry and windows businesses by the end of June.”

In February, Hansgrohe announced that its UK managing director Martin Mongan was stepping down at the end of March, and the firm’s UK sales director Jay Phillips, would take his place.

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