MSA profits drop in first quarter

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Shares of MSA slid 5 percent Wednesday after the Cranberry safety products company reported sharply lower first quarter profits that fell short of analyst estimates.

The company said it earned $19.3 million, or 51 cents per share, for the quarter vs. net income of $23.9 million, or 64 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales fell 3 percent to $283.2 million.

During a conference call with analysts, MSA executives said last year's first quarter included about $5 million in one-time sales of gas and flame detection equipment as well as about $5 million sales of sales from its North American ballistic helmet business, which was sold during the second quarter.

Excluding the impact of the helmet sales and unfavorable currency exchange rates, sales rose slightly, the company said.

Analysts were expecting net income of about 66 cents per share and sales of $294 million.

MSA shares closed Wednesday at $47.50, off $2.46. They are up 11 percent for the year.

President and CEO William M. Lambert told analysts that order activity was choppy through mid-April before picking up, an improvement that has continued into the second quarter.

Chief financial officer Dennis L. Zeitler said selling, general and administrative costs rose 8 percent during the quarter. Part of that was because stock-based compensation that is usually expensed later in the year was recorded in the first quarter, he said. Research and development costs rose 14 percent because of work on new products, he said.

Net income from MSA's North American operations, which account for the bulk of the company's business, was flat during the quarter at $16.2 million. Profits from the European unit fell to $3.6 million vs. $5.6 million in the year-ago quarter. Profits from businesses outside those two regions also fell to $6.7 million vs. $8.3 million in the year-ago quarter.


Len Boselovic: or 412-263-1941.


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