MSA expects boost from new product for firefighters

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MSA Safety President and CEO William M. Lambert said Tuesday the Cranberry safety products company expects regulators to approve its newest breathing equipment for the firefighter market this summer, ending a series of delays that dampened sales through the first quarter.

Mr. Lambert told shareholders attending MSA's annual meeting that the respirator is one of several new products hitting the market. Others include gas and flame detection equipment used by the energy and other industries.

"Our pipeline of new products is robust," Mr. Lambert said.

The meeting was held at the company's headquarters. Shareholders approved an employee stock purchase plan, re-elected incumbent directors and gave a thumbs up on an advisory vote on executive pay.

In an interview, Mr. Lambert said he expects federal and industry regulators to approve the company's new respirator by July or August. That would be in time for initial sales to be reflected in third quarter results, but a larger volume would be sold in the fourth quarter and beyond, he said.

Federal approval of the gear was delayed by the government shutdown last fall and a mistake at the federal testing facility, Mr. Lambert said.

Winter weather that caused some construction companies operating in the Northeast to lose up to 30 work days put a dent in the company's first quarter results, Mr. Lambert said. MSA sells hard hats, fall protection equipment and other gear to the construction industry.

Last month, MSA reported first quarter profits slid 27 percent to $14 million, or 37 cents per share. Sales were off 2 percent.

MSA shares closed Tuesday at $50.63, off $1.16. They are down 1 percent this year.

Len Boselovic: 412-263-1941 or 412-263-1941.

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