One of Toledo's best-known manufacturers said yesterday it is determined to exit the recession in better shape than it entered it, and even though it posted a loss for 2009, it sees better times ahead.
Libbey Inc. reported a loss of $28.8 million, or $1.90 a share, for 2009, compared with a loss of $80.5 million, $5.48 a share, for 2008. Its annual sales last year were $750.2 million, down 8 percent from $812.6 million for 2008.
For the fourth quarter 2009, it lost $7.1 million, or 45 cents a share, considerably smaller than the $68.9 million, or $4.68 a share, the company lost during the same period in 2008. The Toledo tableware manufacturer said it had sales for the quarter of $208.1 million, up 12 percent from $186.6 million a year ago.
Company officials said that the $55.1 million in cash on hand that Libbey ended the year with was an all-time record, and four times the $13.3 million it had on hand a year ago.
The company said its market share grew 1.5 percentage points to 42.1 percent, marking the fourth year in a row that the glass and tableware maker has broadened its hold on consumer and restaurant tables.
"We do see ourselves in a much better place than we were at this point last year," said John F. Meier, Libbey's longtime chairman and chief executive officer.
Investors weren't disappointed in the results, released prior to stock markets opening yesterday. In a generally flat stock market, Libbey shares rose 8 cents to close at $10.15.
While some segments of Libbey's business have rebounded from the lows of late 2008 and early 2009, Mr. Meier said its food service business - glasses and tableware it sells to restaurants
- still suffers because of weakness in the economy's hospitality sector.
"This is our most challenged business still," Mr. Meier told analysts during a conference call. An improving economy and decreasing unemployment were key to returning sales in the hospitality industry, he said.
"We also see convention traffic increasing," Mr. Meier said. "In our business, it's traffic: These people have to eat, have to drink, and those people drop glasses."
Company officials reported good results from a $400 million sale of secured debt that concluded recently, saying that the move shored up the company's debt structure and increased its cash position as the economy strengthens.
"We will stay focused, we will be cost-vigilant, and continue to rebuild a strong Libbey for the future," Mr. Meier said. "We have passed through the perfect storm."
- Larry P. Vellequette