TAYLOR, MI -  Cabinetry manufacturer Masco Corp. (NYSE: MAS) reported increased profit in the fourth quarter of 2012, with strong sales and operating margin growth in North America.

"All five operating segments delivered positive sales growth and improved operating profit for the first time since the housing downturn," Masco said in its earnings statement. For the year, overall sales, including plumbing, installation services and other businesses in addition to cabinetry, rose 4 percent to $7.7 billion.

Net income was $13 million for the quarter (versus a $30 million loss in 2011) and $111 million for the year (versus $9 milion in 2011).

Sales for the quarter increased 9 percent to $1.9 billion, with North American sales up a robust 12 percent. Masco's installation segment returned to profitability. Masco brands include Merillat, QualityCabinets, KraftMaid, Delta plumbing fixtures and Behr paints.

“We expect new home construction to show strong growth in 2013," said CEO  Tim Wadhams. He expects repair and remodelling offerings to grow modestly, as big ticket items continue to lag.

"We believe the actions we have taken over the past several years . . . have positively positioned us to take advantage of the upturn in the housing cycle,” said Wadhams. "We believe this momentum will continue into 2013.”

Masco closed two Merillat plants in Atkins, VA and a DeNova countertop operation in New Jersey lst year, taking charges against earnings as a result.

Masco also says it has $1.4 billion in cash.

Masco said it decided in early February to dispose of its Danish ready-to-assemble cabinet business. It had sales of approximately $250 million in ready to assemble cabinets last year, Masco reports.

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