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Astronics' profits fall 29 percent, miss analysts' target

Delays on some aerospace programs caused Astronics Corp.'s fourth-quarter profits to fall by 29 percent as sales slipped, but CEO Peter Gundermann said Friday he expects earnings and revenue to rebound this year.

The fourth quarter "was a little bit weaker than we wanted," Gundermann said during a conference call. While Gundermann said the current quarter is likely to be similar to the previous two quarters, he predicted that sales would pick up steadily as the year progresses.

Astronics said it expects sales this year to be between $640 million and $720 million, up between 1 percent and 14 percent from $633 million last year. The company does not provide earnings forecasts.

During the fourth quarter, Astronics' profits fell to $9.9 million, or 33 cents per share, compared with $13.9 million, or 46 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts had expected the company to earn 46 cents per share.

Much of the decline was due to a more normal tax rate that the company paid during the fourth quarter of 2016, compared with an unusually low rate the year before. The company's tax payments rose by $3.5 million from a year earlier.

Aerospace sales fell by 6 percent to $128 million as satellite antenna revenues dropped, while test systems revenues increased by 25 percent.

Operating profits at Astronics aerospace business, which accounts for 83 percent of the company's revenues, fell by 8 percent. Earnings from the test systems business more than doubled.

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