Milacron Inc., Cincinnati, OH, supplier of plastics-processing technologies and industrial fluids, reported a net loss of $6.9 million in the first quarter ended March 31.
Sales in the quarter were $203 million, up from $190 million. The increase was due almost entirely to favorable currency translation effects, primarily the weakening of the dollar vis-à-vis the euro and other currencies. New orders in the quarter were also $203 million, and the backlog of $134 million remained at a healthy level.
We continue to make solid progress in reducing our product costs as well as our overall cost structure,"said Ronald D. Brown, CEO. "The results of these efforts are showing up in improved manufacturing margins and operating earnings, despite difficult market conditions, particularly in the U.S. We are also seeing the benefits of our initiatives to grow our presence in markets outside the U.S. Our sales to non-U.S. markets grew another 12% in the quarter and now account for half of our total."
Segment Results Machinery Technologies-North America (machinery and related parts and services for injection molding, blow molding and extrusion supplied from North America, India and China) Continued gains in India and China offset weak demand in North America, as sales of $92 million were essentially flat with those of the same period last year. New orders fell to $94 million from $98 million a year ago, reflecting continued weakness in the automotive and construction sectors. Segment earnings increased to $2.8 million from $1.8 million, reflecting savings from restructuring measures implemented in 2007.
Machinery Technologies-Europe (machinery and related parts and services for injection molding and blow molding supplied from Europe) Sales rose to $44 million from $34 million a year ago, with currency translation accounting for about half the gain. New orders, however, fell to $43 million from $47 million, despite comparable currency effects. Volume gains and other cost savings, including restructuring measures, helped narrow the operating loss to $0.4 million compared to $1.2 million a year ago. The segment is expected to return to profitability and post solid sales and earnings growth in the second quarter.
Mold Technologies (mold bases and related parts and services, as well as maintenance, repair and operating supplies for injection molding worldwide) Sales in the quarter were $38 million, even with those in the year-ago quarter, despite $2 million in favorable currency effects. Operating earnings improved slightly to $0.5 million from $0.3 million in 2007, as restructuring benefits and other cost reductions offset the effects of low sales volumes. Segment earnings are projected to show good year-over-year gains in the second quarter on relatively flat sales.
Industrial Fluids (water-based and oil-based coolants, lubricants and cleaners for metalcutting and metalforming operations worldwide) Sales of $32 million were up $2 million from the year-ago quarter due to favorable currency translation. Operating earnings were $2.9 million. This was down from $3.3 million in the year-ago period, which benefited from a favorable development in a product liability case. This segment continues to expand its presence in emerging markets and plans on posting higher sales and operating earnings in the second quarter.