Drought takes toll on Briggs & Stratton

Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. reported a fiscal fourth quarter net loss of $8.4 million, or 18 cents per share, which was an improvement over a net loss of $17.8 million, or 36 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The company’s consolidated net sales for the quarter fell to $501.2 million, a decrease of $104.0 million or 17.2 percent, from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011.
The firm’s board of directors authorized $50 million increase in its stock share repurchase program.
“This lawn and garden season presented significant headwinds for our two largest markets, North America and Western Europe,” said Todd Teske, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Briggs & Stratton. “The exceptionally severe drought negatively impacted sales to much of North America and more than offset the favorable growing conditions present in the early spring. In addition, consumer sentiment in North America and Europe remains very cautious. Despite these market challenges, we are pleased that our Products Segment substantially increased profitability in fiscal 2012 through operational efficiency improvements and higher sales and production volumes.”
In January 2012, the company announced plans to reduce manufacturing capacity through closure of its Newbern, Tenn., and Ostrava, Czech Republic, plants as well as the reconfiguration of its plant in Poplar Bluff, Mo. In April 2012, the company announced plans to further reduce manufacturing costs through consolidation of its Auburn, Ala., manufacturing facility as well as the reduction of approximately 10 percent of the company’s salaried employees.
Included in the consolidated net loss for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 were pre-tax charges of $30.1 million ($19.3 million after tax or 40 cents per diluted share) related to previously announced restructuring actions.

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