Volume 47, Issue 12- December 2012


Apogee’s Architectural Backlog Increases
Despite Down Market

With a segment backlog of $299 million up from $267 million in the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year, a 32-percent rise from the previous quarter, Jim Porter, Apogee Enterprises’ chief financial officer, noted positive architectural trends during the company’s Analyst and Investor Day in New York in early November.

“This is the highest backlog we’ve seen in 12 quarters,” said Porter. It was during the event that senior management attributed the company’s return to profitably in a down market to the increase in its architectural backlog.

Joe Puishys, CEO, added that over the past year, the company has made strategic investments in its businesses to drive growth productivity. These include, for example, Harmon’s expansion into Texas and Tubelite’s acquisition of Benada’s extrusion equipment. Apogee’s new senior vice president, John Klein, added that another key investment is to continue lean manufacturing training for all Tubelite offices and factory employees.

Kelly Schuller, president of Viracon, estimated the company’s total market for commercial exterior architectural glass was $1 billion to $1.75 billion during the current construction cycle. The cycle is broken down into small-scale projects, middle market projects, which encompass performance products, and large, highly complex projects. Schuller also noted Viracon’s core tall buildings segment is showing some improvement from off-record low levels and stated the company’s competitive landscape remained largely unchanged in the recession. He said the company is beginning to see major architectural firms slowly re-hiring, the reviving of large projects that were previously shelved and early signs of backlog growth.

Brad Austin, president of Harmon, added that achieving profitable growth requires continued geographic expansion and building strong customer relations in current markets. “We have fairly good coverage in the U.S.,” said Austin. “The places we are not currently in are five of the ten largest construction markets.”

The company plans to open an office in Houston by the end of fiscal 2013. Austin’s strategy for paying dividends is to go to where the work is. The company anticipates continuing to travel to where the projects are despite not having an office in certain locations.

Vitro’s Flat Glass Sales Increase 7.9 Percent in the Third Quarter
Third quarter flat glass sales for Vitro rose 7.9 percent to $149 million USD compared to last year’s 2011 third quarter results of $138 million, according to a company release.

Also displaying growth, flat glass’s EBITDA rose 94.2 and consolidated net sales rose 4.7 percent. Vitro accredits this rise in part to a strong performance in the flat glass automotive market.

The flat glass EBIT for the quarter increased to $17 million, from $1 million in 3Q’11, while EBIT margin rose 11 percentage points to 11.6 percent, from 0.6 percent in 3Q’11. EBITDA increased to $24 million, from $13 million in 3Q’11, a 7.2 percentage increase in its margin, compared to 16.3 percent, from 9.1 percent in 2011.

Domestic sales increased 3.7 percent to $95 million, from $92 million. This increase offsets the 5 percent in peso depreciation. Export sales ended the third quarter with $43 million, a 21 percent increase from last year’s third quarter result of $36 million.

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