MSA's sales soar in global economy
May 09, 2012 (Menafn - The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Mine Safety Appliances Co.'s record 1.17 billion in sales last year ended a decade in which the safety-device maker's business "flip-flopped" from being primarily domestic, to about 60 percent overseas, CEO William M. Lambert said on Tuesday.
The Cranberry-based company's V-Gard hardhat, marking its 50th year, not only dominates the protective headgear market in North America but is growing in use in Latin America, China, Australia and South Africa, he told shareholders at the company's annual meeting at the Marriott Pittsburgh North hotel.
MSA wants to boost sales of the hardhat in Europe and elsewhere. The V-Gard is made in Murrysville and at five plants outside the United States, most recently in France.
A manufacturing and industrial ramp-up in growing international markets has shifted more of MSA's revenue base to those areas. In Europe, "our forecasted growth and our efforts are really directed toward central Europe. Poland, in particular, is a growing economy," Lambert said after the meeting.
Five product areas have become MSA's focus in recent years -- supplied-air respirators, industrial head protection, portable gas-detection instruments and sensors, fixed-gas and flame-detection systems and fall-protection equipment.
The company finished 2011 with a profit of 69.85 million, or 1.87 a share, up 83 percent from 38.1 million, or 1.05, the year before. MSA was founded in 1914 and has 5,300 employees, including 3,200 in European and international business segments. Shares closed yesterday at 42.28, up 67 cents.
One particular bright spot for MSA has been fixed-gas and flame-detection equipment, used in the oil, natural gas and petrochemicals industries. MSA acquired General Monitors Inc. of Lake Forest, Calif., two years ago for 280 million, and last year its sales were 86 million -- the best in that business's 50-year history.
Tumbling natural gas prices have slowed domestic production, but Lambert said much of MSA's equipment sales to oil and gas producers have been in the Middle East, South America and other regions outside the United States.
"We've put our flame and gas and ultrasonic leak detectors into compressor stations, and for protection around some of the drilling areas and wells," he said.
Marcellus and Utica shale, though, aren't a big growth area for the company, Lambert said.
Income from the Asia-Pacific region -- which includes China, Japan and Australia -- grew 400 percent last year, according to MSA's annual report.
In other developments Tuesday, shareholders re-elected Thomas B. Hotopp, MSA's former president, and John T. Ryan III, former CEO, along with retired Medrad Inc. CEO Thomas H. Witmer to three-year terms on the board of directors.
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