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Published: Saturday, 4/16/2005

Lackluster drawing toy blamed for Ohio Art's $3.7M loss

BRYAN - Displaying its worst financial performance in seven years, Ohio Art Co. reported yesterday that it lost $3.7 million on sales of $19.7 million for its most recent fiscal year.

The fiscal results were reported just three years after the Bryan toymaker reported its biggest profit in a decade.

No company officials were available to comment on the financial report, but in a statement the firm said:

"The company's results in fiscal year 2005 were one of our most disappointing operational performances in recent history, as all four operating units reported lower volumes."

Ohio Art's latest toy, the ETO electronic drawing toy, was not snapped up at Christmas, sealing the firm's financial fate.

Company President William Killgallon told The Blade in December he expected 2005 would be a disappointing fiscal year. But he said Ohio Art's $35 ETO toy may have been priced too high, and with sagging sales of the once-popular Betty Spaghetty flexible doll, the firm had little room for problems.

Its research and development spending had risen but didn't top $800,000, making it less likely to come up with a hit toy.

The Williams County company, a small player in the toy market nationally, said it lost $4.20 a share for the year ending Jan. 31, compared with a loss of $47,000, or 51 cents a share, the previous year.

Its sales in the latest year were down significantly from the prior year's $28.7 million and were less than half what they were in the fiscal year ending January, 2002.

The profit that year, $3.1 million, was the firm's highest in at least 10 years.

The company, known for its Etch A Sketch drawing toy and Betty Spaghetty, said it had a higher operating loss in its toy division than in the prior year, and that most operations suffered because of price competition and higher raw-material costs for its products.

For the fourth quarter, typically one of its better periods, the firm said it lost $1 million, or $1.20 a share, on sales of $5.5 million, compared with a profit of $102,000, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $5.7 million for the same period a year earlier.

The firm's stock, traded on the Pink Sheets, closed yesterday at $7 a share, up 20 cents. The company this week sought to deregister its stock, which alleviates some regulatory requirements and is a step toward becoming a private company with no public stock.



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