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S&P'S OUTLOOK GOES NEGATIVE ON DEBT OF COLUMBUS MCKINNON

Standard & Poor's Corp. switched its outlook for Columbus McKinnon Corp.'s credit rating to negative after the Amherst material handling equipment maker continued to lose money during the first three months of the year and its markets remain weak.

"If operating and financial initiatives fail to offset end-market weakness, ratings could be lowered in the near term," warned Eric Ballantine, an S&P credit analyst.

S&P, one of the major credit rating agencies, currently has a speculative B rating on Columbus McKinnon's corporate credit rating and a risky CCC rating on its subordinated debt.

S&P noted that Columbus McKinnon is trying to cut its costs by closing facilities and reducing expenses, but said those efforts have not been able to fully offset the challenging market conditions it is facing.

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