A Wrench in the Housing Works

 | Oct 09, 2012 | 10:48 AM EDT  | Comments
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oc

Thanks a lot, Owens Corning (OC). If there could be a worse-timed update of business for one of the keystone names in the housing recovery, I don't know when it would be.

How many ways was it disappointing? First, demand seems to have slacked off for roofing, something that can't be if we are building or fixing up our houses, which is what you do when home pricing gets better and inventory runs short.

Second, the company put through a price increase that hurt business. So margins were very compressed.

Third, manufacturing for the composites business is being transferred to Mexico where the start-up costs were misjudged, while demand slackened.

Fourth, the company took down its global fiberglass demand to 3% from 5% and the company does have a lot of foreign business.

Given that the stocks that have worked so well in this period are housing-related --  like Sherwin Williams (SHW), USG (USG), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) or Home Depot (HD) and Lowes (LOW) -- this one's tough to swallow.

I would love to explain it away, perhaps as a combination of management misjudgment, weakness in Europe and some terrible execution.

Still, the forecast sticks in my craw. I suspect the whole group takes a breather and tries to regain footing because this firm is too integral to the housing chain to ignore.

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