U.S. News

Wolseley 11-Month Sales Rose 15%, Cautious on U.S. Housing Market

Wolseley, the world's largest distributor of plumbing equipment, said Monday that sales in the 11 months through June 30 rose 15% but expressed caution about the state of the U.S. housing market.

The company also said pretax profit for the period fell about 5% from the prior year, reflecting higher interest charges relating to recent acquisitions. The company did not give specific figures.

"There are no signs of any upturn in the U.S. housing market and the timing of any recovery remains uncertain," the company said. The U.S accounts for about one-quarter of Wolseley's sales.

Still, the company "has reacted swiftly and decisively to the difficult conditions in the U.S.," Chief Executive Chip Hornsby said.

The company said that while the new residential market was "challenging," the market for repairs, maintenance and improvements as well as the commercial and industrial sectors were providing opportunities for growth.

Since Aug. 1 Wolseley has bought 41 businesses for a total 374 million pounds ($761 million; 552.4 million euros). Those acquisitions are expected to add about 656 million to revenue "in a full year."

Wolseley shares dipped 0.9% to 1,145 pence ($23.30; 16.91 euros) on the London Stock Exchange.