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Fitch Affirms Masco's IDR at 'BB'; Outlook Stable



  Fitch Affirms Masco's IDR at 'BB'; Outlook Stable

Business Wire

NEW YORK -- February 20, 2013

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Masco Corporation's (NYSE: MAS) ratings, including
the company's Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BB'. The Rating Outlook is
Stable. A complete list of rating actions follows at the end of this release.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

The ratings reflect Masco's leading market position with strong brand
recognition in its various business segments, the breadth of its product
offerings, and solid liquidity position. Risk factors include sensitivity to
general economic trends, as well as the cyclicality of the residential
construction market.

The company's credit metrics for 2012 improved relative to 2011 levels.
Leverage as measured by debt to EBITDA declined from 6.9x at the end of 2011
to 5.1x at year-end 2012. Interest coverage increased to 2.8x for fiscal 2012
compared with 2.3x for fiscal 2011. While these credit metrics are weak for
the rating category, the rating affirmation reflects Fitch's expectation that
Masco's financial results and credit metrics will improve again this year as
the housing and home improvement markets continue their moderate recoveries.
Fitch projects leverage will be slightly above 4x and interest coverage will
be at 3.5x at the end of 2013.

The Stable Outlook reflects the expected continued improvement in housing and
home improvement markets in 2013. The Stable Outlook also reflects the
company's solid liquidity position. Masco ended the year with $1.35 billion of
cash on the balance sheet and $873 million of availability under its $1.25
billion unsecured revolving credit facility that matures in January 2014.
Fitch expects Masco's cash balance at the end of 2013 will remain above $1
billion.

EXPECTED CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT IN MASCO'S U.S. END-MARKETS

The company markets its products primarily to the residential construction
market. During 2012, management estimates that 73% of its sales were directed
to the repair and remodel segment, with the remaining 27% to the new
construction market. Sales to North America accounted for about 78% of total
revenues.

Fitch's housing forecasts for 2013 assume a modest rise off a very low bottom.
In a slowly growing economy with somewhat diminished distressed home sales
competition, less competitive rental cost alternatives, and new and existing
home inventories at historically low levels, 2013 total housing starts should
improve about 18.6% to 925,000, while new home sales increase approximately
22% and existing home sales grow 7.7%.

Fitch projects home improvement spending will grow 4% this year. Growth
patterns in the intermediate term are likely to be below what the industry
experienced during the previous housing boom and the early part of the past
decade due to the slower expansion in the U.S. economy and only moderately
better housing market conditions.

Growth in this segment will also be restrained by tight bank lending
standards, which will make it difficult for homeowners to use credit to
finance large remodeling projects. As such, Fitch expects spending for
big-ticket remodeling projects to lag the overall growth in the home
improvement sector.

MANAGEMENT DISCIPLINE

Masco has taken steps to improve its balance sheet. The company supported its
dividend and was an aggressive purchaser of its stock from 2003-2007, spending
roughly $1.2 billion annually, on average, in share repurchases and dividends
during this period. Masco has not repurchased stock since July 2008 and has
put its share repurchase program on hold, except for repurchases to offset the
dilutive effect of stock grants. In 2009, Masco also reduced its quarterly
dividend from $0.235 per common share ($0.94 annually) to $.075 per share
($0.30 annually), saving approximately $225 million per year.

Fitch expects the company will preserve its strong liquidity position and
refrain from meaningful share repurchases through at least this year.

STRONG LIQUIDITY POSITION

The company continues to have a solid liquidity position. Masco ended the year
with $1.35 billion of cash on the balance sheet and $873 million of
availability under its $1.25 billion unsecured revolving credit facility that
matures in January 2014. Fitch expects Masco to have continued access to this
facility as the company currently has sufficient cushion under the required
covenants.

The company has $200 million of notes coming due in August 2013, which it
intends to repay with cash on hand. Fitch expects Masco to continue to have
cash in excess of $1 billion by year-end 2013.

Masco's historically strong free cash flow (FCF - Cash flow from operations
less capital expenditures and dividends) generation diminished in 2011 and
2012 due to lower margins and profitability. During 2000 - 2010, Masco
generated FCF in excess of $5.7 billion (Masco generated FCF of $220 million
in 2010 and $414 million in 2009). The company was slightly FCF negative
during 2011 and generated $55 million of FCF during 2012. Fitch currently
expects Masco will generate between $150 million and $200 million of FCF
during 2013.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

Future ratings and Outlooks will be influenced by broad housing and home
improvement market trends, as well as company specific activity, particularly
free cash flow trends and uses.

The company's ratings are constrained in the near term because of the high
leverage levels. However, a Positive Rating Outlook may be considered in the
next 6-12 months if housing continues to rebound and the company's credit
metrics are trending toward leverage levels close to 4x and interest coverage
above 3.5x. An upgrade in the next 12-24 months may be considered if the
company's leverage declines below 3.5x and interest coverage is consistently
above 4.5x.

Negative rating actions could occur if the recoveries in Masco's end-markets
are not sustained, leading to weaker than expected credit metrics. In
particular, Fitch may consider a negative rating action if the company's
leverage approaches 7x and interest coverage falls below 2.5x.

Fitch has affirmed the following ratings for Masco with a Stable Outlook:

--Long-term IDR at 'BB';

--Senior unsecured notes at 'BB';

--Unsecured bank credit facility at 'BB'.

Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com. The ratings above
were unsolicited and have been provided by Fitch as a service to investors.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

--'Corporate Rating Methodology' (Aug. 8, 2012);

--'Evaluating Corporate Governance' (Dec. 12, 2012);

--'Liquidity Considerations for Corporate Issuers' (June 12, 2007).

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Liquidity Considerations for Corporate Issuers

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=328666

Evaluating Corporate Governance

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=694649

Corporate Rating Methodology

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=684460

ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS.
PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK:
HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING
DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S
PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND
METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF
CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL,
COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM
THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE.

Contact:

Fitch Ratings
Primary Analyst
Robert Rulla, CPA
Director
+1-312-606-2311
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
70 W. Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60602
or
Secondary Analyst
Robert Curran
Managing Director
+1-212-908-0515
or
Committee Chairperson
Craig Fraser
Managing Director
+1-212-908-0310
or
Media Relations:
Sandro Scenga, +1-212-908-0278 (New York)
sandro.scenga@fitchratings.com
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