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Columbus McKinnon’s weaker earnings fall short of analyst targets

Columbus McKinnon’s fourth-quarter profits plunged by 79 percent as the Amherst material handling equipment maker absorbed the cost of a debt refinancing that will slash its interest costs in the coming years, while also being stung by a 7 percent drop in sales and a strengthening U.S. dollar.

The earnings fell well short of analyst forecasts, as did the company’s sales. CEO Timothy T. Tevens said the company had a slow start to the year, but saw business pick up as spring approached. He forecast “moderate” growth and improved profitability for this year.

During the fourth quarter, Columbus McKinnon’s profits fell to $2 million, or 10 cents per share, from $9.6 million, or 49 cents per share, a year ago, mostly due to $8.6 million in expenses related to its debt refinancing, which is expected to reduce the company’s interest costs by 27 cents per share this year.

Excluding the debt refinancing costs, Columbus McKinnon earned 45 cents per share, less than the 53 cents that analysts were expecting. The company’s sales fell by 7 percent to $149 million, less than the $153.9 million analysts had forecast. The company blamed the drop in revenue on an 8 percent decline in sales volume, along with the impact of the strengthening dollar, which cut into its international sales.