Wisconsin Manufacturing News

Actuant reports strong quarter; A.O. Smith forms joint venture with Japanese manufacturer; S.C. Johnson to acquire Sara Lee division; Wisconsin yacht builder calls 100 employees back to work;

Actuant reports strong quarter

Butler-based Actuant Corp. reported fiscal third quarter net earnings of $21.8 million, up from a net loss of $17.6 million in the same period a year ago.

The company’s quarterly net sales grew to $334.6 million from $285.2 million a year earlier.

Actuant’s fiscal 2009 third quarter results included restructuring costs of $10.7 million, or 11 cents per share, as well as non-cash impairment charges of $4.8 million, or 5 cents per diluted share.

Robert Arzbaecher, chairman and chief executive officer of Actuant, said, "We were pleased with our third quarter results, performing better than anticipated with broad-based strength in many of our markets. Revenue growth of 17 percent was above the high-end of our expectations in the face of headwinds from a stronger than planned U.S. dollar. The sales increase, coupled with solid margin improvement, drove the EPS growth. Cash flow also exceeded expectations due to strong earnings and effective working capital management. We are pleased to have deployed this cash into four tuck-in acquisitions which provide strategic growth benefits to our Industrial and Energy businesses. Overall, our favorable third quarter financial performance highlights improved market demand and strong execution by our employees."

Because of the optimistic outlook, the company revised its projected fourth quarter sales estimated at $305 million to $315 million.

“Moving forward, we remain focused on growing our business, cash flow generation and maintaining a solid financial position,” Arzbaecher said. “We continue to pursue acquisition opportunities which, when executed, will be incremental to guidance. We believe that the combination of an improving economy, our strong portfolio of businesses, lower cost structure, and focus on growth will benefit Actuant shareholders.”

A.O. Smith forms joint venture with Japanese manufacturer

Milwaukee-based A. O. Smith Corp. is forming a joint venture with Takagi Industrial Co. Ltd. of Fuji-city, Shizuoka, Japan, to market and manufacture tankless water heaters in North America.

As part of the joint venture, A. O. Smith will take over the management of Takagi’s existing North American sales and distribution organization, maintaining Takagi’s North American headquarters in Irvine, Calif.

The companies expect the transaction to close in the third quarter.

“This venture is an important investment by A. O. Smith that will further expand our offering of high-efficiency water heating products,” said Ajita Rajendra, president of A. O. Smith Water Products Company. “It represents a rare opportunity to combine Takagi’s well-known brand and world class tankless technology with the strong brands, customer relationships, and extensive distribution of A. O. Smith.”

Through the joint venture, A. O. Smith will offer a full line of tankless gas water heaters under its own brands in association with the Takagi brand and will assume responsibility for the Takagi brand in the U. S. and Canada.

Takagi currently manufactures a full line of gas tankless water heater models in Japan for residential and commercial applications, including the recently released “second generation” 92-percent efficient T-H2 model designed for residential or light commercial applications.

A.O. Smith expects the joint venture to bring manufacturing jobs to the United States and establish a production operation to support the growing needs of the business.

S.C. Johnson to acquire Sara Lee division

Racine-based S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. will acquire Sara Lee Corp.’s global household insecticides business, which markets brand name products in 41 countries throughout Asia, Europe, Russia and Africa.

“We are pleased that this deal, and the addition of the Ridsect, Bloom, Catch, Cucal, Pyrel, Vapona and Fumitox brands, helps SC Johnson further extend its reach to even more families around the globe for whom pest control products provide invaluable health protection,” said Fisk Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer of S.C. Johnson.

S.C. Johnson expects the acquisition to be finalized by the end of the year after the customary regulatory clearances and is currently working on transition plans for the business. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Wisconsin yacht builder calls 100 employees back to work

KCS International Inc., the Oconto-based parent company of Cruisers Yachts and Rampage Sport Fishing Yachts, recently brought 100 employees back to work on new orders for both brands.

The company began the year with 100 employees after layoffs in 2009. The upturn in the economy and increased sales in domestic, Asian and Latin America markets have made it possible for former employees to return, the company said today.

“The growth we have already seen this year has us very optimistic,” said Mark Pedersen, president of KCS International. “The months ahead are looking quite bright as we re-establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading yacht manufacturers. Because of our projections, we want to encourage people looking for work to consider joining the Cruisers Yachts and Rampage family. We always welcome resumes from skilled workers.”

New yacht orders have expanded production, creating a bit of backlog for vessels. The growth has been met with certain supplier lead time issues.

“We are happy to have these types of challenges knowing we can work through them,” Pedersen said.

Cruisers Yachts produces 13 models from 30 to 56 feet in its Oconto facility. Rampage Sport Fishing Yachts combine comfort and convenience with speed, durability and performance focused engineering. Built at the Oconto facility, Rampage Sport Fishing Yachts creates highly fishable express and convertible sport fishing yachts, 30 to 45 feet.


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