Black & Decker Earnings Slump

Tool maker Black & Decker Corp. (BDK) on Friday reported lower earnings for the fourth quarter as sales decreased in its consumer business and grew more slowly than in previous quarters in its key power tools division.

The maker of DeWalt drills, Kwikset locks and Price Pfister faucets had earnings of $100.6 million, or $1.27 a share, down from $135.3 million, or $1.62 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding a tax expense to repatriate foreign earnings, per-share profit from continuing operations came to $1.93 a share, compared with $1.60 a share a year earlier, the company said.

Sales for the quarter rose slightly, to $1.7 billion. The power tools division, which in previous quarters posted double-digit increases, had a sales increase of 2 percent. Sales in the U.S. consumer business fell slightly, and Black & Decker cited "order patterns that drove a higher rate of increase in the third quarter."

Sales in the hardware and home improvement segment, which includes locks and faucets, decreased 4 percent in the quarter, the company said. Black & Decker's consumer products are sold at retailers including Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's Cos. (LOW).

Retail inventory reductions have hurt a number of tool makers, including Stanley Works (SWK), which this week reported disappointing earnings.