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Profits hit record highs in the fourth quarter and fiscal year at Mark IV Industries, the company said Tuesday.

Profits increased 52 percent in the quarter ended Feb. 28 to $17.6 million, or 32 cents per share, from $11.6 million, or 25 cents per share, a year earlier.

Sales in the quarter also increased by 52 percent to $485 million from $320 million, while operating income increased 43 percent to $43.7 million from $30.6 million.

The fourth-quarter results included Purolator Products Co., which was purchased by Mark IV on Nov. 4.

Profits for the year were $66.8 million, or $1.34 per share, compared to $3.4 million, or 15 cents per share, the previous year.

The fiscal 1994 results were depressed by one-time charges of $21.7 million to extinguish debt ahead of schedule, and by $26 million for the non-cash expense of adopting an accounting convention for post-retirement medical benefits.

"The fourth quarter of fiscal 1995, marking our 60th consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth in income from continuing operations, was a good one," said Sal H. Alfiero, chairman and chief executive officer. "We are especially pleased with the improvements made to our balance sheet."

Mark IV sold 6.2 million new shares of common stock in December, generating $113 million that was used to reduce the debt incurred to acquire Purolator.

In February it converted into equity the remaining $37.5 million of its 6.25 percent convertible subordinated debentures.

The sale of equity and conversion of debt improved the company's balance sheet, reducing its debt to total capitalization ratio to below 50 percent for the first time in 10 years, Alfiero said.

"Overall improvements in the domestic economy fueled growth in our general industrial and automotive OEM markets and, to a lesser extent, the automotive aftermarket," Alfiero said. "Additionally, the continued strengthening of European economies helped generate overall improved results in our European-based businesses."

Sales are improving in the company's power and fluid transfer segment, and backlogs are at record levels.

"Operationally, the process of combining Purolator with our other power and fluid transfer operating units is progressing nicely," Alfiero said.

Purolator, with annual revenues of approximately $450 million, makes filtration products and systems for fluid transfer applications.

Sales in the company's professional audio business improved throughout the fiscal year, both domestically and in Europe, Alfiero said.

"Strengthening domestic sales, combined with the rebounding European economy, should help the upward trend in this business to continue," he added.

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