Losses caused by slow housing starts (complicated by subprime lending issues) are not limited to builders. The Masco Corp., a manufacturer of home improvement and building products, is reporting a 6 percent decline in sales to $3.1 billion (compared to $3.4 billion in the second quarter of 2006). The Michigan-based company says its net income for the quarter was $189 million.

The report also states that North American sales declined 10 percent while international sales increased 14 percent. The company says results in the second quarter were aided by recent acquisitions, the favorable effect of currency translation, profit improvement programs, and selling price increases, partially offsetting commodity cost increases and lower sales volume.

As a result of the second-quarter decline, Masco is reducing its 2007 housing starts estimate to approximately 1.4 million, or the low end of its previous range of 1.4 to 1.5 million.