News Column

Libbey beats expectations; stock rises

August 1, 2014

By Tyrel Linkhorn, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio



Aug. 01--Investors raised a glass Thursday to Libbey Inc., cheering stronger-than-anticipated second quarter results and sending shares of the company's stock up nearly 13 percent.

The Toledo-based producer of glass tableware and stemware said sales rose 6.5 percent to $223.5 million. That notably included a 9 percent increase in the Americas, a region that struggled in the year's first quarter.

"Sales were particularly strong in the Americas segment as we were not only able to defend our market share, we were able to grow share in spite of a very competitive market and a soft consumer economy," Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Streeter said on a conference call with investors and analysts.

Both the food service business and retail business were up more than 10 percent in the quarter. Libbey accomplished that in spite of what company officials said remains a challenging market -- Ms. Streeter said restaurant traffic remains down between half a percent and 1.5 percent.

Arnie Ursaner, president of CJS Securities Inc. and a longtime follower of Libbey, said weakness in the glass industry had driven concerns that Libbey might struggle.

That clearly didn't happen.

"They had surprisingly good revenue, well above our expectations, and maintained very good margin because they had 90 percent plus [manufacturing] utilization. Even with the industry challenges and headwinds they had, they performed exceptionally well this quarter," Mr. Ursaner said.

Libbey's profit was dragged down in the quarter by a one-time $47 million loss on redemption of debt. Including that, the company lost $25.2 million, or $1.16 per share.

On an adjusted basis, Libbey said it earned $22.6 million, or $1.02 per share, up from an adjusted $18.4 million, or 84 cents per share, last year.

Libbey officials said the extra investment it has put into strengthening its sales, marketing, and product development are paying off, as are the restructuring efforts that shifted some production from Louisiana to Toledo.

Officials said Thursday those restructuring efforts should save the company $5 million in the second half of the year.

Libbey also expects revenue growth in the second half to be similar to its growth in the second quarter. Mr. Ursaner said that will likely be on higher volumes, not higher pricing, another reason investors were excited on Thursday.

Shares of the company's stock closed the day up 12.8 percent to $26.04.

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(c)2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com

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Source: Blade (Toledo, OH)


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