Crane Co. Reports 45 Percent Earnings Gain In First Quarter

Crane Co., a diversified manufacturer of highly engineered industrial products, including Crane Merchandising Systems, reported that first quarter 2011 earnings per diluted share increased 45 percent to $0.81 compared to $0.56 in the first quarter of 2010.

First quarter 2011 sales of $611 million increased $81 million, or 15 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2010, resulting from a core sales increase of $58 million (11 percent), an increase in sales from acquisitions, net of divestitures, of $16 million (3 percent), and favorable foreign currency translation of $7 million (1 percent).

First quarter 2011 operating profit increased 37 percent to $72.9 million, compared to $53.3 million in the first quarter of 2010, and operating profit margin increased to 11.9 percent, compared to 10.0 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

During the quarter, the company sold a building and divested a small product line. The associated gain of $4.3 million ($0.05 per share) is included in miscellaneous-net on the accompanying Income Statement.

"I am pleased with our first quarter results as strong core revenue growth of 11 percent and solid execution produced a quarter that was considerably better than we anticipated. The significant sequential improvement in our monthly sales and earnings during the quarter gives us increasing confidence about the year," said Eric C. Fast, Crane Co. president and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. "With our late-cycle aerospace and fluid handling businesses clearly gaining momentum, we are raising our full year sales, EPS and cash flow guidance."

Sales for 2011 are now expected to increase approximately 10 percent to 12 percent, compared to our prior guidance of 7 percent to 9 percent, driven by strong core sales growth. 2011 earnings guidance is now a range of $3.05 to $3.25 per diluted share, compared to previous guidance of $2.80 to $3.00 per diluted share, reflecting strengthening revenue and profit growth across all segments. Free cash flow (cash provided by operating activities less capital spending) is now expected to be in a range of $130 million to $150 million, compared to a previous estimate of $130 million.

Cash used for operating activities in the first quarter of 2011 was $16.2 million, which included higher working capital needs to support improving sales trends, compared to cash provided by operating activities of $16.8 million in the first quarter of 2010 (which included $19 million of cash received in connection with the Boeing agreement).

During the first quarter of 2011, the company repurchased 634,900 shares of its common stock for approximately $30 million. The company's cash position at March 31, 2011 was $233 million, as compared to $273 million at Dec. 31, 2010.

Merchandising systems sales of $94.9 million increased $24.7 million, or 35 percent, primarily reflecting $16.4 million of sales associated with the December 2010 acquisition of Money Controls (23 percent) and positive core sales growth in payment solutions and vending businesses. Operating profit of $4.7 million declined slightly from the prior year as purchase accounting charges associated with Money Controls more than offset the impact of higher sales.

First quarter 2011 sales for the company increased $28.3 million, or 21 percent, reflecting a $19.8 million (25 percent) improvement in aerospace group sales and an increase of $8.5 million (16 percent) in electronics group revenue. The aerospace group sales increase reflected higher OEM and aftermarket shipments while electronics group sales growth was primarily driven by strength in power solutions. Segment operating profit of $34.0 million increased by $9.6 million, or 39 percent, reflecting strong sales growth and margin improvement in both aerospace and electronics.

Aerospace and electronics order backlog strengthened to $455 million at March 31, 2011, as compared to $431 million at Dec. 31, 2010 and $388 million at March 31, 2010.

Segment sales of $61.8 million increased 15 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010, as a result of significantly higher demand from transportation customers, as well as higher revenues across recreational vehicle and building products end markets. Operating profit grew 19 percent, and margins improved 50 basis points as higher sales more than offset the impact of increased raw material costs. The company implemented price increases during the first quarter and continues to monitor the impact of higher input costs.

For fluid handling systems, first quarter 2011 sales increased $16.4 million, or 6.6 percent, which included a core sales increase of $10.9 million (4.4 percent), and favorable foreign currency translation of $5.5 million (2.2 percent).

Orders strengthened across fluid handling end markets and were particularly strong in ChemPharma and energy. Sales, operating profit and margin improvement was broad based across the group. The sales increase was effectively leveraged with operating margins improving from 11.3 percent to 13.4 percent. Backlog increased to $305 million at March 31, 2011, compared to $272 million at December 31, 2010 and $254 million at March 31, 2010.

For controls, first quarter 2011 sales of $28.2 million increased 13 percent, primarily reflecting improvement in industrial, transportation and upstream oil and gas related demand. Operating profit of $3.1 million increased significantly over 2010, reflecting strong leverage and the absence of the operating losses associated with divested businesses.

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