RERMAG

Housing Slowdown Stabilizing, IR Chairman Says

The housing slowdown that has affected sales of Bobcat machines as well as Ingersoll Rand’s security technologies is “stable at a low level,” IR chairman Herbert Henkel said last week.

Henkel said retail orders for Bobcat equipment has stabilized, but the extent of demand from rental companies is not yet clear. Ingersoll Rand’s first-quarter earnings forecast plans for a 20-percent drop in capital spending by rental companies from the previous year’s first quarter. However, milder than usual January weather could help offset that expected decrease.

Ingersoll Rand’s compact vehicle segment, which also includes Club Car golf carts, reported 2006 sales of $2.6 billion, the company’s second-largest segment.

Henkel added that demand for compact vehicles remains strong in Europe, and that the company is on track to open a Bobcat plant in the Czech Republic in May. The Czech plant will cut transport and tariff costs, take advantage of lower wages and put Ingersoll Rand closer to European customers.

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