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Published: Thursday, 10/29/2009

OC, O-I report rise in profits despite drop in sales

BLADE STAFF

Sales fell but profits rose for two of the Toledo area's three largest companies as the tough economy kept its grip on industry.

Owens Corning, the Toledo maker of building materials and fiber glass, said it recorded a profit of $80 million for the third quarter on sales of $1.3 billion, compared with a loss of $807 million on sales of $1.6 billion for the same period a year ago.

Owens-Illinois Inc., the Perrysburg glass bottle manufacturer, sold fewer glass bottles to brewers and other customers in the third quarter, but made more money doing so. It said it had a profit of $127 million on sales of $1.9 billion, compared with a profit of $79 million on sales of $2 billion a year earlier.

At OC, Chief Executive Mike Thaman said in a statement: "The aggressive actions we've taken to reduce our costs and inventory are paying off.

"We sustained strong financial performance and generated significant cash flow driven by our outstanding results in roofing."

The firm reported a profit of 63 cents a share, up from the loss of

$6.35 a share a year earlier, with that loss stemming from an accounting charge related to income taxes and prior losses.

Higher selling prices for roofing shingles helped make up for lower sales across most product lines.

The firm's fiber-glass unit, which the company refers to as composites, returned to profitable. But demand for fiber glass - which is mixed with plastic to make material for boats, skis, and other products - is steadily increasing after plunging 45 percent in December but "has not yet recovered to levels seen in the first nine months of 2008," officials said.

O-I's said its quarterly profit rose to 74 cents a share, up 46 cents a year earlier. Its volume of bottles sold slipped by 7 percent, officials acknowledged, but much of that was offset with higher prices and a sales mix that included more high-end bottles.

Al Stroucken, chief executive of the Fortune 500 firm, said, "I am pleased with our third-quarter results amid challenging economic conditions, underscoring our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace.

"We posted improved year-over-year earnings for the first time since the recession began to impact our business in the third quarter of last year."



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