Business Roundup: Construction spending down; Hitachi buys Sullair; Acosta confirmed as Labor Sec.; Volvo CE, United Rentals Q1 earnings
| May 9, 2017

Construction spending falls 0.2% in March

Gains in residential construction spending during March were offset by an identical loss in nonresidential as total construction spending in the U.S. fell 0.2 percent.

Total spending fell to $1.2 trillion, but remains 3.6 percent above the March 2016 figure, according to preliminary data from the Commerce Department.

Private residential spending rose 1.2 percent during March to $503 billion and is 7.5 percent above its year-ago figure. The gains primarily came from an 0.3 percent increase in single-family home spending to $258 billion. Those gains were nearly matched however by multifamily spending which rose 2 percent to $66 billion.

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Hitachi eyes North American distribution network with Sullair purchase

Hitachi is purchasing Sullair from Accudyne to pick up the company’s portable air compressor business and as a means of tapping into the brand’s sales network with a primary focus on the North American market. The announced purchase price is $1.245 billion.

“We are thrilled by the prospect of partnering with Hitachi to grow Sullair as we embark together on the next chapter in our proud history,” says Sullair President Jack Carlson.

Hitachi will have access to roughly 200 dealers in North America, and plans to also use the purchase to provide Sullair’s customers with digital solutions or Internet of Things (IOT) compatible products. Sullair will be under the Hitachi Industrial Products Business Unit.

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Acosta confirmed as next Secretary of Labor

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Alexander Acosta to be the next Secretary of Labor, making him the only Latino in Trump’s Cabinet, The Hill reports.

Democratic senators Catherine Cortez-Masto (Nev.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Angus King (Maine), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Mark Warner (Va.) joined with the Republican Senators to confirm Acosta by a vote of 60-38.

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Volvo CE Q1 profit soars as net sales grow 30%

Volvo Construction Equipment reports first quarter 2017 net sales increased 30 percent compared to the same period last year, to 16.16 billion Swedish Krona (SEK) ($1.83 billion). First quarter 2016 net sales were 12.45 billion SEK ($1.41 billion).

The company reports operating income increased nearly quadrupled to 1.62 billion SEK ($188.7 million) from 341 million SEK ($38.5 million), and operating margin reached 10 percent, compared to 2.7 percent in 2016.

Machine orders for the quarter increased by 34 percent, to 17,487 machines, with deliveries increasing the same increment, to 16,369 machines.

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United Rentals Q1 net income up 18.5%, total revenue grows 3.5%

United Rentals’ first quarter 2017 total revenue grew by 3.5 percent, to $1.36 billion, compared to the same quarter last year, with $1.17 billion coming from rental revenue.

The company also saw net income grow by 18.5 percent to $109 million, or $1.27 per diluted share, over the same period. The adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) reached $591 million, just $7 million more than last year, with an adjusted EBITDA margin of 43.6 percent.

Volume of equipment on rent grew by 7 percent in the quarter, with rental revenue increasing by 4.4 percent and owned rental revenue increasing 3.8 percent year-over year.

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