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ASTRONICS CORP.'S PROFITS RISE 71%

Rising productivity stemming from Astronics Corp.'s investments in new equipment and processes during the last two years helped the Buffalo-based company boost its second-quarter profits by 71 percent, despite flat sales.

Astronics, a maker of electroluminescent lighting systems for airplanes and other products, as well as folding boxes and imprinted products for specialized markets, said its earnings soared to $646,000, or 12 cents per share, from $377,000, or 7 cents per share, a year ago. Astronics' earnings now have increased for 12 straight quarters.

"We've spent a lot of money on capital expenditures and they're starting to pay off," said John M. Yessa, Astronics' vice president of finance. Kevin T. Keane, Astronics' chairman and chief executive officer, said the company should continue to generate "healthy growth" in its profits.

The company's earnings improved despite flat sales, which inched up to $9.69 million from $9.68 million a year ago. Sales were held back because of the sale of its Rodgard Division in Buffalo to Hutchinson Industries Inc. of New Jersey for $2.25 million.

If Rodgard is excluded from last year's figures, Astronics' sales from continuing operations rose by 7 percent. Astronics' sales have grown for 12 straight quarters.

Yessa said most of the improvement in sales from continuing operations came from the company's packaging business, while revenues from its electronics systems were relatively flat.

Despite the flat sales, Yessa said the company's earnings were bolstered by improved profits from its electronics systems business.

For the first half of this year, Astronics' profits soared by 65 percent to $1.23 million, or 23 cents per share, from $743,000, or 14 cents per share, a year ago.

Sales were flat at $19.31 million, compared with $19.25 million, but revenues from continuing operations were up 7 percent.

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