6309 Monarch Park Place, Suite 203
Niwot, CO 80503, USA
Phone (303) 443-5060
Toll free (888) 742-5060
"We are off to a very solid start for 2003," said H. John Riley, Jr., chairman, president and CEO. "Our first-quarter earnings were consistent with our previously stated projections, and we are on track to meet our cash flow objective for the year. Even more important, we achieved positive margin improvement compared with last year's first quarter. Despite having to battle a continued weak market environment, we are making very real progress in our programs to control costs and heighten productivity."
First-quarter 2003 revenues for Cooper's Electrical Products segment were $804.2 million, compared with $819.5 million for the same period in 2002. Segment operating earnings in the 2003 first quarter improved over 9 percent to $100.3 million, compared with $91.8 million in the 2002 first quarter. Segment operating margins improved to 12.5 percent in the 2003 first quarter, compared to 11.2 percent in the same period in 2002.
Revenues in the Company's Electrical Products segment declined 2 percent in the first quarter of 2003 compared with the prior year's first quarter, reflecting continued weakness in several of Cooper's key markets. Revenues in Cooper's North American lighting fixtures, wiring devices and support systems businesses were down slightly when compared to the first quarter of 2002, due to continued soft commercial construction markets and somewhat weaker retail channel sales. Further, the Company's power transmission and distribution equipment sales were negatively impacted as many utilities continued to delay major capital commitments, choosing instead to focus on improving their balance sheets. On a more positive note, modest improvements in selected industrial markets offered some signs of encouragement during the quarter as evidenced by revenue gains in the Company's hazardous duty and circuit protection businesses when compared to the prior year's first quarter.
First-quarter 2003 revenues in Cooper's Tools & Hardware segment were $153.6 million, buoyed somewhat by improved sales of tools used in electronic markets and the favorable impact of currency translation. Tools & Hardware sales in the first quarter 2002 were $155.5 million. Segment operating earnings increased to $6.5 million in the 2003 first quarter, compared with $5.3 million in the 2002 first quarter. As a result, operating margins increased to 4.2 percent in the 2003 first quarter, compared with 3.4 percent in the same period last year. While overall demand remains weak, cost control and manufacturing rationalization programs are positively impacting operating results in these businesses.
"During the quarter, we advanced several important initiatives that we believe are key to securing Cooper's future growth and profitability," said Riley. "We finalized a new management structure for our Cooper Connection program, allowing us to offer additional marketplace services and broaden our overall customer base. We also made good progress toward implementing a new Company-wide Enterprise Business System. Ultimately, this new system will provide important data transparency across all of our businesses, allowing us to