Masco Corp.reported today it had swung to a $33 million net profit attributable to its operations in this year's first quarter from a $46 million loss in the year-earlier period on a 7% rise in sales to $1.88 billion.

The Taylor, Mich.-based firm--whose brands include Delta Faucet, Masco Cabinetry, Hansgrohe, Arrow Fastener, Behr paints, and Milgard Windows and Doors--accomplished the turnaround by more than halving the operating losses at its cabinet and installation units while boosting operating earnings in its plumbing group.

CEO Tim Wadhams credited increased business in both new home construction and remodeling for helping boost sales but added: "Our results this quarter include solid improvements in margins and earnings per share. ...We remain cautiously optimistic for the balance of 2012. We are making progress on our strategic initiatives, which include leveraging our brands, reducing our costs, improving our installation and cabinet segments, and strengthening our balance sheet.

"Although the cabinetry business continues to be challenged by aggressive promotional activity and consumers' deferral of big-ticket purchases, both businesses are benefiting from improved residential new construction and total cost productivity," Wadhams added. "We continue to believe will achieve significant improvement in both cabinetry and installation in 2012."

Cabinetry and related products posted $23 million operating loss for the first three months of 2012, less than half the group's $50 million operating loss a year earlier, even though sales fell 3% to $297 million. And despite Wadham's optimism, the company reiterated that it still expects the North American part of its cabinet business to post a $22 million operating loss for all 2012, down from 2012's $75 million loss.

Installation and other services did even better, slashing its operating loss to $14 million from a $35 million loss in 2011's first quarter as sales jumped 18% to $278 million. For all 2011, Masco incurred a $65 million operating loss in this segment. This year, it expects to record a $35 million operating loss.

The plumbing group continued its time in the black, with operating profit rising 15.5% to $97 million on a 5% rise in sales to $742 million. And the decorative architectural products group held its own, increasing operating profit 5.8% to $73 million. Sales climbed 16% to $434 million.

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