Thomas & Betts Corp., Memphis, reported fourth-quarter 2003 net earnings of $19.3 million, a 43-percent increase in earnings per share over fourth-quarter 2002.
“The operational improvements we’ve made and the strategic restructuring actions we’ve taken, are flowing to the bottom line, which helped us meet our earnings and working capital targets for the quarter,” said Dominic J. Pileggi, president and CEO. “We entered 2004 with good momentum and feel confident that we will continue to enhance our earnings performance in 2004 even without a meaningful boost from the economy.”
Sales in the quarter were $349.5 million, up 4.3 percent from the prior-year period primarily as a result of the favorable impact of foreign currency. The fourth-quarter 2003 gross margin was 28.3 percent of sales, up approximately 2 percentage points over the prior-year period. Full-year 2003 sales were essentially flat with 2002 at $1.3 billion, while net earnings were $42.8 million, compared to a net loss of $53 million in 2002.
The company expects only a modest recovery in its core markets in 2004 and believes any increase in demand will be gradual and weighted toward the second half of the year. Consequently, the company’s financial targets for 2004 assume top-line growth in the low- to mid-single digit range.
“We believe we are well positioned to show meaningful improvement in our earnings performance in 2004,” said Pileggi. “Even though we continue to operate below optimal capacity, our plants are performing very well and we have revitalized new product development. Our sales team has a portfolio of well-known brands supported by high-quality manufacturing operations. We are confident that we can leverage these strengths and continue to improve our financial results.”