Power tool maker Black & Decker Corporation announced that net earnings from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2004 were a record U.S. $74.3 million, or $0.93 per diluted share, a 69 percent increase over diluted earnings per share of $0.55 in the first quarter of 2003. Including discontinued operations, which reflect a net gain on the sale of discontinued operations, diluted earnings per share were $1.09 for the quarter.
The company said sales in the Power Tools and Accessories segment increased 3 percent for the quarter, while sales in Europe decreased at a high single-digit rate, due to weak economic conditions and higher back orders. Sales of DEWALT(R) professional products increased in the U.S. as new products such as cordless impact wrenches, reciprocating saws, and a line of optical instruments were introduced.
Black & Decker said retail sales of the U.S. power tools and accessories segments grew at a double-digit rate for the third consecutive quarter as consumer products increased at a low single-digit rate, with strong tool sales partly offset by unfavorable timing of orders for lawn and garden products.
Sales from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2004 were $1.09 billion, a 16 percent increase over $0.94 billion for the same period last year. Sales increased 5 percent excluding the effects of foreign currency translation and acquisitions.
Inventory of continuing operations was $790 million at quarter-end, virtually flat to the first quarter of 2003. Excluding the effects of foreign currency translation and acquisitions, inventory decreased approximately $80 million. Free cash flow improved $72 million over the first quarter of 2003 to negative $75 million.
Commenting on the results, Nolan D. Archibald, chairman and CEO, said, "Our strong market positions, together with an improving economy, drove sales growth at a high single-digit rate before acquisitions in our North American businesses. We are especially pleased with results in the DEWALT Professional Products division, which answered competitive challenges with a double-digit rate of sales growth."
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