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Libbey sales, profits dip for quarter, year; economy blamed

Toledo's Libbey, Inc., yesterday reported that its sales and profits fell in the fourth quarter and for all of 2001 largely because of the sluggish economy and the downturn in food-service businesses after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The supplier of glasses and other tableware products for the restaurant industry and individuals said its fourth-quarter profit dropped 41 percent, to $7 million, or 45 cents a share, compared with $11.8 million, or 76 cents a share, in fourth-quarter 2000, and its profit for 2001 fell nearly 16 percent, to $39.4 million, or $2.53 a share, from the previous year's $46.9 million, or $3.01 a share.

Sales were down - 5 percent for the year, to $419.6 million, and 9 percent for the fourth quarter, to $112.1 million.

“The events of Sept. 11 did have an impact on our business,” said John Meier, chairman and chief executive, in a statement. “Reduced travel activity in the fourth quarter and tight inventory control by our distributors did impact our sales to food-service customers. However, we did grow retail sales by 8 percent for the quarter.”

Libbey had warned in late January that it was reducing its fourth-quarter earnings expectations and had extended its week-long holiday shutdown to about three weeks at its glassware factories, including one in North Toledo.

So, by yesterday, “there were no major surprises of any sort,” said analyst Arnold Ursaner, with CJS Securities in White Plains, N.Y. The consensus of five analysts who follow Libbey's stock was profit of 45 cents a share for the quarter - exactly on target - and $2.52 for the year, according to Thomson Financial Network/First Call.

Mr. Ursaner said Libbey was fortunate not to have any large volume of business with Kmart Corp.

Mr. Meier forecast 2 to 4 percent sales growth and a profit of $2.60 to $2.65 per share this year.

Libbey stock closed at $33.05, down 55 cents a share, in New York Stock Exchange trading yesterday.

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