TAYLOR, MI -- The red ink continued to flow at Masco Corporation during the first quarter, as the company reported a wider $46 million loss in the first quarter on net sales of $1.8 billion. The company said North American sales decreased seven percent and International sales increased four percent.
"As anticipated, the trends impacting our business, including depressed new home construction, the deferral of "big ticket" repair and remodel activity and commodity cost pressures have continued into 2011. In the first quarter of 2011, our sales were down four percent. Excluding cabinet products that we are exiting, as previously announced, our sales would have been down just one percent compared to a relatively strong first quarter of 2010, which benefited from the homebuyer tax credit that expired in mid-2010. In addition, on that same basis, sales in February and March of 2011 were basically flat with 2010. Plumbing Products sales were strong in first quarter of 2011 compared to last year and we believe that our North American cabinet business and our installation business, while still depressed, were able to gain share sequentially, compared to fourth quarter of 2010. We continue to manage our cost structure aggressively across our business and we anticipate that actions we have taken, or expect to take, to drive productivity, cost reductions, supply chain efficiencies and price increases will offset the impact of commodity and energy cost increases and other cost inflations for full-year 2011," said Masco's CEO Tim Wadhams.
We continue to focus on the rationalization of our businesses, including business consolidations, plant closures, headcount reductions, system implementations and other initiatives. During the first quarters of 2011 and 2010, we incurred costs and charges of $32 million pre-tax and $14 million pre-tax, respectively, related to these initiatives.
"While we still believe that the second half of 2011 will be stronger than the first half, our enthusiasm has been tempered somewhat. Job growth has been modest at best, energy costs have increased, reflecting the turmoil in the Middle East and most economists have reduced their forecasts for 2011, including for housing starts. Given the uncertainty of the timing and strength of the recovery in our markets, we will continue to focus on the things we can control to improve our execution and strengthen our brands. The Masco Business System continues to drive positive change across the Company. Our cabinet integration is on plan and we expect will drive fixed cost reductions and share gains; we have strengthened our brands and our focus on innovation is driving exciting new opportunities across all of our product groups, and we have added outstanding talent to our leadership teams to enhance the development and execution of our business strategies," said Tim Wadhams.
Longer-term, we are confident about the fundamentals for the new home construction and home improvement markets and we are optimistic about the future. We expect that improvements in our markets and in consumer spending, together with the changes we are driving across Masco and our financial strength will create significant value for our shareholders.
Headquartered in Taylor, Michigan, Masco Corporation is one of the world's leading manufacturers of home improvement and building products, as well as a leading provider of services that include the installation of insulation and other building products.