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Published: Saturday, 11/23/2002

Ohio Art takes a hit in quarter's earnings

BY BLADE STAFF WRITER

BRYAN - The West Coast dock shipment problems contributed to plunging sales and profit for Ohio Art Co. in its latest quarter, a key pre-Christmas financial period for the Williams County toymaker.

Profit for the third quarter was $1 million, or $1.18 a share, down 26 percent from the $1.4 million, or $1.61 a share, for the same period a year ago, the firm announced yesterday. Sales for the quarter ending Oct. 31 also slumped 20 percent to $12 million from $15.1 million a year ago.

The company said it had lackluster worldwide sales in its major toy categories, with shipments of its popular Betty Spaghetty doll and its well-known Etch A Sketch drawing toy hurt by the temporary work stoppage at West Coast ports this fall. It also said that its metal stamping operation also had flat sales for the quarter.

A year ago, in a quarter that included sharp retail sales declines after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Ohio Art reported sales and profit increases. While Christmas falls during the company's fourth quarter, much of its holiday sales to stores and distributors is during its third quarter, making it a vital period.

The earnings report yesterday was made near the end of the stock trading day, and shares of the Bryan firm finished up 85 cents at $12.95 a share on the American Stock Exchange. The price isn't much higher than its 52-week low of about $11.

The company also announced that workers in its Bryan factory have ratified a three-year contract. The last one expired in March, although workers stayed on the job.



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