Crane Co has announced a record operating profit for the 2018 calendar year on the back of record sales. In a written announcement issued on Monday, the American supplier of technology to the gaming sector and other industries, said annual sales grew 20 percent to US$3.35 billion, helping to generate an annual operating profit of US$441 million, a 14-percent increase on the 2017 calendar year.
In a separate announcement to the market, Crane declared an 11-percent increase in its quarterly dividend to US$0.39 a share from $0.35 a share. The dividend is payable on March 11 to shareholders of record on February 28. The indicated annual dividend rate is now US$1.56 a share.
Crane calls itself a diversified manufacturer of highly engineered industrial products. The company sells payment and merchandising hardware to the gaming industry, and industrial products to the aerospace, electronics, hydrocarbon processing, petrochemicals, chemicals, power generation, automated merchandising and transport industries.
“In addition to the strong operational and financial performance, we also made continued progress on numerous strategic initiatives last year that better position Crane for years of profitable growth ahead,” said Crane president and chief executive Max Mitchell.
“Specifically, we completed the acquisition of Crane Currency, and integration activities remain on track; we continued to execute on repositioning activities to ensure that we have the right cost-effective manufacturing footprint to support future growth; and we are delivering on growth investments and new product development across our businesses.”
The company’s payment and merchandising technologies division reported fourth quarter sales of US$313 million, a 61-percent increase on the same quarter 12 months earlier, that was largely driven by sales made by companies newly acquired by Crane.
Last January, Crane completed the acquisition of Crane and Co Inc – also known as Crane Currency – for US$800 million. The latter firm is a supplier of micro-optic technology, which can be used for security purposes for specialised products such as printed banknotes.
In Monday’s earnings announcement, Crane said earnings per diluted share rose to US$5.50 last year from US$2.84 in 2017. Operating profit margin narrowed slightly to 13.2 percent from 13.9 percent, and free cash flow grew to US$305 million, also a record.
Crane is forecasting that earnings per share will rise to somewhere between US$6.05 and US$6.25 this year. “The midpoint of this guidance range represents 6 percent growth compared to last year,” Mr Mitchell said. “We continue to believe that we are on track to deliver on our 2021 earnings per share target of US$7.50 to US$8.00, with additional potential upside from capital deployment.”
Mr Mitchell said the dividend his company would pay in March reflected confidence in the outlook for its performance.
Sales for 2019 are expected to be about US$3.3 billion reflecting a 2-percent decline on the 2018 figure.
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