Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stock Building Supply reports $46 million loss

Wolseley, minority owner in Stock, writes off $64 million in Saturn Acquisition Holdings

Stock Building Supply has reported a $46 million loss on revenue of $950 million for the year ended July 31st. Just three years ago, the building materials supply company had sales of more than $5 billion.

Pro Sales magazine had an in-depth report on the report. For the full story go to prosalesmagazine.com

In reporting its financial results yesterday, the U.K. based Wolseley, the largest plumbing and heating distributor in the world and parent of Ferguson Enterprises, said it is moving its tsax residence to Switzerland. The company, which trades in the UK, North American and Europe, said it would create a new group holding company, New Wolseley, that would be UK listed, incorporated in Jersey and have tax residence in Switzerland.

"The board has concluded that the interests of its business and its shareholders are best served by establishing an international holding company corporate structure that will help provide more certainty in its taxation position,"
The change is expected to enable Wolseley to "achieve a competitive effective corporate tax rate."
Wolseley reported total sales of nearly $21 billion, down 9 percent from the previous year.
Wolseley is not paying a dividend this year, but said it hoped to resume payments in the first-half of 2011.
Ian Meakins, chief executive, said: "Whilst overall we remain cautious about the outlook for our markets, we are confident that Wolseley will make good progress in the year ahead."

U.S. economic growth slowed to 1.7% in Q2

Drop from 3.7% in first quarter

U.S. economic growth slowed to an annual rate of 1.7% in the second quarter, compared with 3.7% in the first quarter and 5 percent at the end of 2009, the Commerce Department said today.

Exports of goods and services rose 9.1%. However, imports rose 33.5%, the largest jump since 1984.

Meanwhile, initial jobless claims dropped by 16,000 to 453,000 last week, lower than what many economists had forecast, the Labor Department said today.
GDP was forecast to grow at a 1.6 percent annual pace, according to several economic forecasts.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Danaher to buy Keithley Instruments

Keithley will become part of Danaher’s Tektronix business

Danaher Corp. said today that it has agreed to buy Keithley Instruments Inc. , an electrical test instruments and systems manufacturer for $21.60 a share, a deal valued at about $300 million net of cash to be assumed.

"Along with Fluke and Tektronix, Keithley further solidifies Danaher's leading position in the test and measurement industry and presents an attractive value creation opportunity," said Jim Lico, executive vice president at Danaher.
Upon the closing of the transaction, Keithley would be part of Danaher's Tektronix business.

The acquisition, subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of calendar 2010. The acquisition has been unanimously approved by the Keithley board.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Midwest manufacturing index drops 1.4% in August

Richmond-area index also drops

The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank’s Midwest Manufacturing Index (CFMMI) decreased 1.4 percent in August, to a seasonally adjusted level of 79.9. Revised data show the index rose 1.9 percent in July to 81.0.

Here are some of the numbers contained in the report:
• Regional auto sector output fell 6.9 percent;
• Regional machinery sector production edged up 0.3 percent
• Regional steel sector output grew 0.8 percent; and
• Regional resource sector production rose 0.9 percent.

The region’s auto sector production fell 6.9 percent in August after increasing 7.6 percent in July. The Midwest’s machinery sector production edged up 0.3 percent in August after ticking up 0.2 percent in July. The nation’s machinery production increased 0.7 percent in August.

Meanwhile, the Richmond Fed's seasonally adjusted composite index of manufacturing activity fell to -2 in September from +13 in August. Shipments fell fifteen points to -4, new orders lost 10 points to finish at 0, and the jobs index declined fifteen points to -3.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Durable goods orders drop 1.3% in August

Excluding transportation, new orders rose 2%

Orders for U.S.-made durable goods fell 1.3% in August, the largest decline in a year and below expectations of many economists, the Commerce Department reported today.

Excluding automotive and aircraft, new orders rose 2%.

Shipments in August fell 1.5%, compared with a gain of 2.5% in the prior month.
Inventories of durable goods rose 0.4% in August, following a gain of 0.6% in July.

Manufacturing has been slowing down , according to other recent surveys.Factories in the New York region expanded in September at the slowest pace this year, while manufacturing in the Philadelphia area contracted for a second month, according to regional Fed surveys. Manufacturing output nationwide grew 0.2 percent in August following a 0.7 percent July gain, the Fed said last week.

PT/motion control sales drop in July

Power transmission sales are still up year to year in U.S. and Canada

Sales of power transmission/motion control (PT/MC) products by U.S. manufacturers dropped in July by 1.3 percent compared to June and Canadian manufacturers’ sales dropped by 12.3 percent according to July 2010 sales data released by the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) in its Market Outlook Report.

Although sales dropped in July, sales year-to-date are still ahead of the same period in 2009. In the U.S., year-to-date sales are up 7.6 percent over the same period in 2009. In Canada, sales are 10.3 percent ahead of 2009.

For the third consecutive month, confidence in the market by U.S. manufacturers holds a neutral position of 5.0, while Canadian manufacturers’ confidence dropped from 5.2 back to 4.9 from 5.1 on a scale of 1 (very pessimistic) to 10 (outstanding).

Month-to-month sales for product categories between June 2010 and July 2010 for U.S. and Canadian manufacturers are reported below.
The Market Outlook Report is published monthly by the Power Transmission Distributors Association. The full report includes U.S. and Canadian manufacturer data for sales and order trends for mounted bearings, unmounted bearings, standard industrial motors (U.S. only), variable speed drives, positioning systems/linear motion products, gear products, clutches and brakes, shaft couplings and mechanical drive systems and other PT products.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Timken acquires QM Bearings and Power Transmission

QM has annual sales of more than $14 million


The Timken Company (NYSE: TKR) has acquired QM Bearings and Power Transmission, Inc., based in Ferndale, Washington. That location, as well as manufacturing facilities in Prince George, British Columbia, and Wuxi, China, along with distribution facilities in Ontario, Texas, and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, will become part of the Process Industries segment of Timken's Bearings and Power Transmission Group.

The acquisition is expected to be accretive to Timken's earnings in its first full year with the company. The addition of spherical roller-bearing steel-housed units and elastomeric and steel couplings expands Timken's capabilities beyond its existing, core lines for especially demanding applications such as sawmill and cement operations.

"We welcome QM associates to Timken's family of businesses and look forward to serving our customers with a broader offering of high-performance products for demanding power-transmission applications," said Michael C. Arnold, president of Timken’s Bearings and Power Transmission Group.

QM has approximately 100 employees in the United States, Canada and China, and posted sales of more than $14 million for the 12-month period through June 30, 2010.

General Cable continues to expand internationally

Company acquires Egyptian manufacturer;joint venture in Oman

General Cable Corporation (NYSE: BGC), has acquired BICC Egypt. BICC Egypt manufactures a wide variety of wire and cable products for the electrical markets including low voltage insulated power and control cables, building wire, instrumentation cable, halogen free power and control cables, and overhead power cables. In the last 12 months, the business reported revenues of approximately $30 million.

The acquisition of BICC Egypt furthers the Company's geographic expansion by establishing a production and commercial base in one of the largest and fastest growing markets in the Mediterranean and North African region. The Company believes the demand for wire and cable products in Egypt will continue to grow faster than many other nations due to increasing investment in infrastructure and power generation projects, a growing population, and a favorable GDP outlook.


General Cable also has formed a joint venture with International Cable Industries LLC (ICI), a limited liability company organized in Oman. The joint venture company in which General Cable will have a majority interest will distribute a wide variety of wire and cable products for the energy, electrical infrastructure and construction markets in Oman and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. General Cable will provide access to a wide range of its products and offer technical support to ICI.

Actuant to divest European Electrical Business

European electrical busness markets under Kopp brand name


Actuant Corporation plans to divest its European Electrical business, which markets its products primarily under the Kopp brand name. The European Electrical business has previously been reported as part of the Company's Electrical segment.

"This planned transaction reflects our proactive portfolio management efforts to focus on platforms where we can create the most shareholder value," said Robert C. Arzbaecher, Actuant Chairman and CEO.

European Electrical (consisting of Kopp and Dresco) designs, manufactures and markets electrical sockets, switches and other tools and consumables predominately for the European Do-It-Yourself (DIY) retail market. It has operations in Germany, Austria and Tunisia, and employs approximately 525 people. Its annual revenues approximate $105 million.

"The Kopp business has a strong brand and market position, a committed workforce, and prospects for future profitable growth," continued Arzbaecher in a press release. "However, we believe that future growth can be more fully realized with an owner focused on the European DIY market. I want to thank the employees for their many contributions under Actuant ownership. During the divestiture process, the European Electrical business will continue to focus on meeting and exceeding customer requirements for high quality electrical products."

Actuant is a manufacturer of branded hydraulic and electrical tools, highly engineered position and motion control systems, and specialized products and services for energy related industries.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Acklands-Grainger buys Solus Securite

Canadian distributor has C$20 million in sales

Grainger today announced that its Canadian subsidiary, Acklands-Grainger Inc., Canada's largest distributor of industrial, safety and fastener supplies, has purchased Solus Securite Inc. With 2009 sales of approximately C$20 million, Solus Securite is a leading fire protection and safety distributor in Quebec with locations in Trois Rivieres, Victoriaville, Montreal and Sorel. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Our Quebec customers have told us they want more products and services available to them that help them keep their facilities and employees safe," said Sean O'Brien, President of Acklands-Grainger. "Working together with our new team members and sharing best practices, we will leverage our combined expertise to offer local customers more of the products and services they need, where and when they need them, including safety product repairs and technical support."

"Solus Securite has worked hard since 1978 to provide businesses and institutions in Quebec with quality, full-service distribution and strong technical expertise," said Normand Belanger, President, Solus Securite. "We are thrilled to be joining Canada's leading industrial, safety and fastener distributor and know our customers will benefit from Acklands-Grainger's broad product offering, industry-leading supply chain and commitment to service."

Acklands-Grainger has served Quebec for more than 73 years and employs more than 135 team members in the province. Over the years the company has made significant investments across the province to meet the evolving needs of local business, including its acquisition of Excel Industriel in 2008.

Acklands-Grainger and Solus Securite will continue to operate separately in their respective locations for the immediate future.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cooper Industries offers strong forecast

Earnings expected to be at high end of its previous forecast

Cooper Industries plc today announced that its third quarter 2010 revenues are anticipated to exceed the high end of its previous forecast for revenue growth of 2% to 5%, adjusted for the deconsolidation of the Tools segment.

Revenue growth for the third quarter is now expected to be approximately 6% to 8%. Earnings per share in the third quarter are now expected to be in the range of $.82 to $.85, up from the previous forecast of $.75 to $.80. Additionally, it is expected that Cooper will have repurchased over 6 million shares year-to-date by the end of the third quarter.

Cooper will report its fiscal third quarter 2010 results on October 21, 2010.

On July 6, 2010, Cooper announced the completion of the Joint Venture, named Apex Tool Group, LLC. Cooper and Danaher Corporation each own a 50 percent interest in the Joint Venture. The Tools assets and liabilities to be contributed to the Joint Venture in July 2010 have been reclassified to separate lines in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets

Cooper Industries plc (NYSE: CBE) is a global electrical products manufacturer with 2009 revenues of $5.1 billion.

A new web portal for small business

The site will help small businesses become suppliers to large companies

A consortium of large businesses in a variety of industry sectors is establishing a new web portal making it easier for small businesses to compete with greater ease to sell goods and services to global companies.

AT&T , Bank of America,, Citigroup, IBM, Pfizer,, and UPS have agreed to standardize and simplify the application process required for qualified small- and mid-sized U.S. suppliers to undergo, as they compete for nearly $150 billion in contracts collectively awarded by those companies every year

To facilitate this, the participating companies will establish a free, public website, created and maintained by IBM through a grant of more than $10 million from the IBM International Foundation. The site, to be named "Supplier Connection" (www.supplier-connection.net), will provide visitors with a single, streamlined electronic application form. Small vendors need only complete the application form once to potentially become suppliers to the participating companies. They will be able to more easily connect for opportunities to sell services, marketing, food, human resources, and construction, among others.

Currently, it can be challenging for small businesses to apply as potential suppliers to large companies, as the process can require significant investments of time, money and expertise. The application forms, formats and requirements of each company can vary, making it difficult for smaller suppliers to pursue business with a single large company, let alone multiple global companies. The Supplier Connection Web site aims to accelerate and streamline the application process leading to increased contracting with small- and medium-sized firms.

In a recent study, NY-based Center for an Urban Future documented that small businesses often experience a dramatic increase in revenues and significantly increase their workforce after becoming a supplier to a large corporation, according to a press release from supplier connection.

The Supplier Connection Web site, which is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2011, will enable access by qualified firms to connect for opportunities where the participating companies conduct business. Consequently, qualified firms will more easily have the opportunity to reach not only the U.S. markets, but potentially nearly 200 countries -- the number of places worldwide where the participating companies operate.

As the program advances, it is expected that many large businesses will sign up and many small companies will benefit. The Web site will enable small suppliers to learn from, collaborate with, and sell to each other so that they can become more competitive and successful. It will offer the participating companies a mechanism for sharing valuable business information with these prospective small- and mid-sized suppliers. Large companies will also have easier access to small, innovative companies that generate new products and services.

In fact, small businesses are the heart of the U.S. economy. Between 1993 and 2008, small businesses created at least 65 percent of new private sector jobs, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department says that small firms in the United States comprise 99.7 percent of all employer firms, provide jobs to fully half of all private sector employees and pay 44 percent of the private sector payroll.

"Everyone says that small business is the engine for economic growth. We believe opening up new markets for goods and services, in the billions of dollars spent by large companies can be the fuel that will allow those small businesses to grow," said Stanley S. Litow, IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and President of IBM's Foundation. "I liken the mechanism we're unveiling to a Universal College Application, which simplified the way in which students could spend less time filling out redundant forms, and focus more on academic excellence.

"That's what we're trying to do here -- let small businesses do what they do best, grow their businesses and not get bogged down in red tape."

The Web site will enable small suppliers to learn from, collaborate with, and sell to each other so that they can become more competitive and successful. It will offer the participating companies a mechanism for sharing valuable business information with these prospective small- and mid-sized suppliers. Large companies will also have easier access to small, innovative companies that generate new products and services, according to a recent article about the site in the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Air Products takes big step in fight for Airgas

Air Products today announced that, based on preliminary estimates, all three of its director nominees were elected to the Board of Directors of Airgas, Inc. at today's Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Based on a preliminary count by Air Products' proxy solicitor, MacKenzie Partners, Inc., John P. Clancey, Robert L. Lumpkins and Ted B. Miller, Jr., were all elected to Airgas' board of directors.

Air Products also said that all three of its proposals were approved:
• A proposal amending Airgas’ By-Laws to limit the Airgas Board’s ability to re-seat directors not elected by Airgas shareholders (excluding the Chief Executive Officer)
• A proposal requiring future Airgas annual shareholder meetings, including for 2011, to be held in January
• A proposal repealing all By-Law amendments adopted by the Airgas Board after April 7, 2010

John E. McGlade, Air Products' chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, "Airgas shareholders have provided a clear mandate to negotiate a transaction, and we appreciate their support. We stand ready to negotiate immediately, and call on the Airgas Board to respect the will of its shareholders. Further delay serves no purpose."

In February, Air Products commenced a cash tender offer for all the outstanding shares of Airgas, not already owned by Air Products. The purchase price for the cash tender offer is $65.50 per share.

Airgas has said the offer is inadequate.

Industrial production sluggish in August

Manufacturing in New York region fails to meet expectations

Industrial production in the U.S. slowed in August as automakers scaled back following an increase in output in July.

Industrial production increased 0.2 percent last month after rising 0.6 percent in July, figures from the Federal Reserve showed today. Factory output climbed 0.5 percent excluding autos, the most since May..

Other reports today showed manufacturing in the New York region expanded at a slower pace than forecast.

The Fed Bank of New York’s general economic index fell to 4.1 this month, the lowest reading since July 2009, from 7.1 in August. Readings greater than zero signal expansion. Measures of orders, sales and employment all improved, showing the drop in the index was mainly a reflection of a loss of confidence.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Small business confidence remains low

Sub-par growth expected in second half of 2010

The National Federation of Independent Business Index of Small Business Optimism gained 0.7 points in August, rising to 88.8. Most of the improvement was accounted for by gains in expected real sales and expectations for business conditions six months out, the two components that lowered the index in July. But despite their improvements, both measures are still in recession territory.

Sub-par growth expected in second half of 2010“Small business owners are expecting sub-par growth in the second half of 2010,” said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB’s chief economist. “Consumers are pessimistic, business owners are pessimistic and Washington’s leadership has been unable to inspire any confidence in the future.”

Average employment growth per firm has been negative since April of 2007 and remained negative for 10 of the 12 following quarterly (first month in each quarter) readings. August brought no improvement, with reported job loss averaging negative 0.3 employees per firm (seasonally adjusted).

Eleven percent (seasonally adjusted) reported unfilled job openings, up one point from July but historically very weak. Over the next three months, 8 percent plan to increase employment (down one point), and 13 percent plan to reduce their workforce (up three points), yielding a seasonally adjusted net 1 percent of owners planning to create new jobs, down one point from July but positive for the 4th time in the last 22 months.

The frequency of reported capital outlays over the past six months fell one point to 44 percent of all firms, again hitting the 35-year record low. Of those making expenditures, 29 percent reported spending on new equipment (down one point), 14 percent acquired vehicles (unchanged) and 11 percent improved or expanded facilities (unchanged). Two percent acquired new buildings or land for expansion (down one point), and 7 percent spent money for new fixtures and furniture (down two points). Basically, expenditures are weak across the board.

Seventy-three percent of all owners said the current period was NOT a good time to expand. Of those, 69 percent cited the poor economy as the reason, but 18 percent blamed the political environment, unchanged from July.

“If the poor political environment is top of mind for nearly 1/5th of those opposed to expanding, it is likely second on the list for most of the others,” said Dunkelberg.

The net percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reporting higher nominal sales in the past three months was unchanged from July at a net-negative 16 percent, 18 points better than June 2009 but indicative of very weak customer activity. Unadjusted, 25 percent of all owners reported higher sales (last three months compared to prior three months, down one point) while 33 percent reported lower sales (unchanged). Widespread price cutting continued to contribute to reports of lower nominal sales.

“What businesses need are customers, giving them a reason to hire and make capital expenditures and then they may have the need to borrow to support those activities,” said Dunkelberg. “Washington doesn’t seem to understand this. Their proposals to improve the economy typically focus on easing credit conditions or giving businesses incentives to spend. These policies are unlikely to help most small businesses whose main problems remain poor sales and uncertainty over the economy.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Airgas may buy back $700 million of its stock

Shareholder meeting will be held Wednesday

Airgas Inc. says it may buy back $700 million of its stock and could overhaul its balance sheet to purchase more should Air Products & Chemicals Inc. withdraw its 5.5 billion hostile takeover bid, according to a report by bloomberg.com.

Airgas can buy 13 percent of its stock at the current price under existing loan covenants Peter McCausland, the Pennsylvania-based industrial-gases distributor’s chief executive officer, said a telephone interview with Bloomberg. Airgas could refinance debt and tap new investors as part of a recapitalization to extend the share buybacks, he said, declining to comment on pricing.

Air Products is threatening to withdraw its bid of $65.50 a share unless Airgas shareholders on Sept. 15 elect its three director nominees and approve its proxy questions at an annual meeting. One of the questions may allow Air Products nominees to seize control of Airgas’s nine-member board in January.

“If this January meeting is turned down and Air Products walks, we will be able to come up with a good solution,” McCausland said, according to Bloomberg. “What is really important is that the remaining shares that aren’t purchased trade at a good price.”
For a full copy of the report, click on to www.bloomberg.com

Friday, September 10, 2010

GHX announces two acquisitions

Hose and sealing products distributor expands with purchases in Pennsylvania, Florida

Houston-based hose and sealing products distributor GHX Industrial, LLC expanded its reach into Pennsylvania and Florida with two acquisitions, the company announced this week.

In Pennsylvania, GHX acquired Hose Line Industrial, a hose and fittings distributor that gives GHX immediate access to growth opportunities in the region’s natural gas production business—particularly in the growing natural gas production activity in the Marcellus Shale formation. The deal closed in June and builds on GHX’s already strong presence in the upstream oil and gas markets in Texas and Louisiana.

In Florida, GHX recently completed the acquisition of Trident Supply Co., a hose and fittings distributor located in Jacksonville, with three locations serving the southern Georgia and northern Florida markets. The deal expands on GHX’s existing business in the Southeast; the company already serves industrial markets from locations in Pensacola, Fla., and Mobile, Ala.

GHX CEO Dan Ahuero said the company will continue to look for acquisition opportunities as part of a strategic plan to grow the business. The distributor acquired Louisiana-based All Hose & Specialty in 2007 and Texas-based Robsco, Inc. in 2008 as part of its plan to expand into the upstream oil and gas industry, which includes oil and gas drilling, exploration and production.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Atlas Copco acquires Kramer Air Tool

Purchase price was not disclosed

Atlas Copco Tools & Assembly Systems LLC has agreed to acquire the sales and marketing operation of its current tool distributor Kramer Air Tool Inc., based in Michigan. The agreement further strengthens Atlas Copco’s presence, market coverage and support to customers.

“We are very pleased to integrate the Kramer distributor network into Atlas Copco sales organization and thereby offer our customers an even wider range of sophisticated products, services and accessories. This will bring us closer to our customers” says Mats Rahmstr√∂m, business area president, Atlas Copco Industrial Technique.

Kramer was founded in 1984 and has been a sole Atlas Copco distributor for Michigan since 1999 for tools and related services to the motor vehicle and general industries. Its headquarters is located in Farmington Hills. Kramer employs around 50 people.

The agreement gives Atlas Copco the rights to sales and service of Atlas Copco’s industrial tools in the state of Michigan. Customers will be transferred to Atlas Copco’s customer center in Michigan. The parties have agreed not to disclose the price.

Atlas Copco is an industrial group with positions in compressors, construction and mining equipment, power tools and assembly systems. The group delivers sustainable solutions for increased customer productivity through innovative products and services. Founded in 1873, the company is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and has a global reach spanning more than 170 countries.

Atlas Copco’s Industrial Technique business area develops, manufactures and markets industrial power tools, assembly systems, aftermarket products, software and service. Principal product development and main manufacturing units are in Sweden, China, France, Hungary and Japan.

ERIKS to buy Texas-based distributor

Dutch distributor of mechanical engineering components to buy Rawson LP, Houston, Texas

The Netherlands-based global distributor ERIKS said it will acquire Rawson LP of Houston, Texas, expanding its reach in North American process technology markets.

Rawson is a flow control solutions provider and distributor of process control instrumentation, valves and accessories, field instruments, and engineered equipment in the U.S. Gulf Coast. Rawson provides sales, services, and inventory to more than 5,000 customers from 17 locations serving Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Mexico. Rawson has annual sales of more than $100 million.

Rawson serves the refining, chemical, oil and gas, power generation, pulp and paper, food processing, pharmaceutical and semi-conductor industries.

The company provides products and services in six areas:

• Valve Solutions
• Control Solutions
• Measurement Solutions
• Instrument Support Solutions
• Energy Management Solutions
• Calibration Solutions

Rawson will become an independent business unit within ERIKS USA, the company said in a statement announcing the deal.

ERIKS specializes in five key areas, serving customers in the chemical, pharmaceutical, food, biotechnology, mechanical engineering, semiconductor, refining, offshore, and metal industries. The firm’s five key product areas are:

• Sealing technology
• Power transmission, including electromechanical services and condition monitoring
• Flow technology
• Industrial plastics
• Tools and maintenance products.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Airgas rejects Air Products offer

Battle ahead at next week’s stockholder’s meeting

Airgas, Inc. today announced that its Board of Directors has unanimously rejected the revised unsolicited tender offer from Air Products & Chemicals, Inc.to acquire all outstanding common shares of Airgas at a price of $65.50 per share in cash. The Board unanimously recommended that Airgas stockholders not tender their shares into Air Products' revised offer. The Board also urges stockholders to vote for Airgas' three directors and against Air Products' By-Law amendment proposals at Airgas' Annual Meeting of Stockholders on September 15.

In a prepared release, Airgas Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter McCausland said, "The Airgas Board of Directors is unanimous in its belief that Air Products' revised offer, which represents only a $2.00 per share increase over its previous offer, continues to grossly undervalue Airgas. We believe that this slight increase in Air Products' offer price does not adequately compensate Airgas stockholders for the Company's inherent value, excellent prospects and impressive economic performance since Air Products first announced its offer. The Board is unanimous in its belief that $65.50 per share is not an appropriate value or a sensible starting point for negotiations to achieve such a value."

McCausland concluded, "We believe that Air Products' threat to withdraw its offer if Airgas stockholders do not elect its nominees and approve its By-Law proposals is just another coercive tactic designed to facilitate the acquisition of Airgas at the lowest possible price. If Air Products follows through on its threat, Airgas intends, through repurchases or other transactions, to assist its stockholders who desire to sell their shares in the near term."

See our previous blog posted yesterday in which Air Products increased its offer to purchase Airgas.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Air Products says it could walk away if Airgas shareholders does not approve its board slate

Air Products and Chemicals Inc. has increased its offer to buy rival Airgas Inc. to $65.50 per share, putting its latest bid at about $5.48 billion. Air Products also said but said it will walk away if Airgas shareholders don't elect its board slate and approve its bylaw proposals.

The new bid represents a 50 percent premium over the closing price for Airgas shares of $43.53 on Feb. 4, the day before Air Products' original bid, which was about $5.1 billion, or $60 per share. Air Products later raised its offer to as much as $63.50 per share, but Airgas has said that "grossly undervalues" the company.

Airgas said in a separate statement Monday evening that its board will review the revised offer, and it is asking shareholders to take no action until that is finished. The Airgas statement noted that the closing price of its stock Friday was higher than the latest Air Products offer.

Air Products Chairman and CEO John E. McGlade said in a statement Monday that his company has given Airgas shareholders "a clear path" to completing a deal.

Air Products wants Airgas shareholders to elect its three nominees to its board and approve some bylaw proposals at its Sept. 15 annual meeting. The bylaw amendments reportedly include some proposed changes to director eligibility requirements, a requirement for Airgas to hold future annual meetings in January and the repeal of all bylaw amendments made after April 7.

Air Products said it is ready to start immediate negotiations with Airgas to complete the deal if shareholders approve its candidates and the bylaw changes. If they fail to do so, Air Products said it will end its offer "and move on to the many other attractive growth opportunities available"

If successful, Air Products would become the biggest industrial gas company in North America.

Airgas, based in Radnor, PA., provides gases, welding products, safety products and other MRO supplies.

Friday, September 3, 2010

U.S. added more jobs in August

Manufacturing cuts jobs; construction adds jobs

Companies in the U.S. added more jobs than forecast in August,according to a
report today by the U.S. Labor Department.

Private payrolls that exclude government agencies rose 67,000, after a revised 107,000 increase in July that was more than initially estimated, the Labor Department said.

Manufacturing payrolls decreased by 27,000, more than the survey forecast of a 10,000 increase, the fist uptick since late last year.

Construction companies surprisingly added 19,000 workers, the first gain in four months.

Nonfarm payrolls fell 54,000 last month, matching the level of revised losses recorded the previous month, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Economists had predicted a drop of 110,000. The unemployment rate edged up to 9.6%, as expected, after holding at 9.5% for the previous two months.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Manufacturing grew more than expected in August

The factory growth surprises many economists

Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at a faster pace than many had forecast in August, rising for the 13th consecutive month.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index rose to 56.3 from 55.5 in July, the group said today. Readings over 50% in the ISM index indicate that more firms are growing than contracting.

Norbert Ore, head of the ISM's survey committee, said production drove the index higher.

The production index increased in August to 59.9% from 57.0%.

"There is no sign of double-dip in manufacturing right now," Ore said.

Eleven of 18 industries as tracked by ISM grew in August, led by primary metals, apparel, and transportation equipment

ISM’s U.S. new orders index fell to 53.1 from 53.5.

The employment gauge rose to 60.4 from 58.6 in July and the index of export orders fell to 55.5 from 56.5 the prior month.

Most economists had not expected the index to rise to such a degree. Recent regional factory reports showed the manufacturing expansion weakening. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s general economic index contracted this month for the first time in a year, while the New York Fed’s gauge rose less than forecast.

Steven Smidler takes reins at Kaman Industrial Technologies

Smidler replaces longtime KIT president Jack Cahill, who retired Aug. 31

Steven Smidler officially takes the reins at Kaman Industrial Technologies this week, replacing T. Jack Cahill, who retired Aug. 31.

Smidler, 51, joined Kaman in December 2009 as senior vice president and chief operating officer of KIT.

Before joining Kaman, Smidler was with Lenze Americas Corp., where he served as executive vice president, with responsibility for marketing, sales, finance, business systems and product technology for the Americas. Smidler was also a member of the management committee of the Lenze Group, Germany, and was president and treasurer for Lenze Americas and served as treasurer and a board member for the Lenze ACTech production company.
Smidler is a 1981 graduate of Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology. He received an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in 2007. Prior to joining Lenze, Smidler held executive positions at Eaton Corporation’s Powerware Division and Rockwell Automation.

Cahill joined Kaman in 1975 as a salesman in Denver and was named president of the company in 1993. During his tenure as president, KIT’s sales grew by almost two-and-a-half times.