Wisconsin Manufacturing News

Tecumseh sheds Peerless division; Magnetek stays in the black; Orion develops new outdoor parking lot lighting system; On heels of record quarter, Snap-on warns of slowdown

Tecumseh sheds Peerless division

TecumsehPower Company, a Grafton-based provider of powertrain solutions to the global outdoor power equipment industry, announced it has sold its Peerless transmissions business to Husqvarna Outdoor Products.

The Peerless transmissions business, located primarily in Salem, Ind., with limited operations in Grafton, designs, manufactures and sells transmissions to outdoor power equipment to original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket service parts to OEMs and central warehouse distributors.

The transaction announced today represents the latest in a series of initiatives TecumsehPower’s management team is taking in response to significant declines in customer volume.

"In response to a very difficult situation, we are executing an orderly plan that protects our customers, creates value for our investors and preserves as many jobs as possible," said TecumsehPower Company president and chief executive officer Rudolf Strobl. "The successful divestiture of the Peerless transmissions business was a critical step in that process and is good news for everyone involved."

In October 2008 TecumsehPower informed its customers that the company would shut down manufacturing operations related to its engine business, a process that was largely completed by the end of 2008.

"We have sought and found solutions that preserve the commitment we made to our customers," Strobl said. "We have kept them informed every step of the way and will continue to evaluate every alternative with their long-term interest in mind."

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Magnetek stays in the black

Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek Inc. reported fiscal second quarter net income of $1.9 million, or 6 cents per share, which was down from $2.6 million, or 8 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The company’s quarterly net sales grew to $26.8 million from $25.4 million.

"Consistent with our performance in the first quarter of fiscal 2009, all of our major product lines experienced year-over-year sales growth with the exception of alternative energy. Our year-over-year sales growth reflects continued strength in our served markets during this period as well as continuing acceptance of new products for mining and elevator applications," said Peter McCormick, Magnetek’s chief executive officer. "Looking forward, it’s likely that our business will see some impact of the U.S. industrial slowdown; visibility remains limited and we are receiving mixed signals from the marketplace. For example, while our second quarter bookings were below our target, our quotation activity remains high. Given our healthy backlog coming into the third quarter, we currently expect that our sales for the second half of fiscal 2009 will show an increase over the second half of fiscal 2008, although our rate of growth may not be as robust as we’ve experienced in recent quarters."

Orion develops new outdoor parking lot lighting system

Manitowoc-based Orion Energy Systems Inc. has developed a new parking lot lighting system designed to take energy savings and better lighting outdoors.

The fixture features fluorescent lamps that reduce users’ energy consumption by 50 percent or more while significantly increasing light levels in comparison with the legacy high-intensity discharge lights that are used in most parking lots today.

Orion estimates there are more than 20 million parking lot lights nationwide. According to a study conducted for the U.S. Department of Energy, only 4 percent of the parking lot lights in the nation are energy-efficient fluorescent fixtures. As a result, parking lot lights consume 22.2 billion kilowatt-hours per year, which could be reduced by 50 percent or more with Orion’s technology.

Orion president and chief executive officer Neal Verfuerth said the lights will help decrease a company’s energy costs and provide excess capacity to utilities during nighttime hours.

"This is going to be significant," Verfuerth said. "Typically, power during non-peak hours, or night hours, is in excess, but that will change over time as more demand is required overnight. Just like daytime hours, we’re going to need more electricity during non-peak hours. In fact, we envision a day when load reduced in the evenings and nighttime will be deployed to power electric vehicles."

"The new parking lot system is an economically viable solution to parking lot lighting," said Mike Potts, Orion’s executive vice president. "Like all Orion technology, it’s developed to not only provide substantial energy savings, but to do it without compromise to current operations or systems. Our customers’ parking lots will be illuminated with a whiter, brighter light which means a safer environment for their guests and employees."

The fixture is designed to operate in extreme hot and cold conditions and will be tested later this month by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

On heels of record quarter, Snap-on warns of slowdown

Snap-on Inc., a Kenosha-based manufacturer and marketer of tools, diagnostics, equipment, software and service solutions for professional users, announced a record fourth quarter.

Snap-on reports record fourth quarter net earnings of $58.6 million, or $1.01 per diluted share, compared with $57.3 million, or 98 cents per share, in the same period last year.

The company’s net sales of $667.8 million in the quarter declined 10.1 percent from the prior year, with 5.7 percent due to unfavorable currency translation.

For the 2008 fiscal year, the company’s net sales of $2.85 billion were up slightly from $2.84 billion in 2007.

Despite the record quarter, the company warns that it is not optimistic about the first quarter of 2009.

"As a result of worsening economic conditions and continued tight credit markets, customer demand weakened in the fourth quarter, particularly affecting our sales of big-ticket products," said Nick Pinchuk, Snap-on president and chief executive officer. "Given these unprecedented economic headwinds, we are pleased with our relative performance, having earned record profits in both the fourth quarter and full year. I thank our franchisees and associates for their contributions in achieving these record results."

The company stated, "Snap-on does not, as a general practice, furnish quarterly sales or earnings projections. However, in light of these factors and conditions, the company believes that first quarter 2009 sales and earnings will be lower than reported first quarter 2008 amounts."


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