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GIBRALTAR'S PROFIT SOARS 87 PERCENT IN QUARTER

Gibraltar Steel Corp. delivered on its recent prediction that its second-quarter results would be its best ever.

The Hamburg-based steel processor reported quarterly profits of $15.4 million on sales of $257 million. Its net income increased 87 percent from a year ago, and its sales grew by 27 percent over the same period.

"The second quarter was far and away the best in Gibraltar's history," said Brian J. Lipke, chairman and chief executive officer.

Gibraltar's earnings per share were 78 cents, up 53 percent from a year ago.

It was the 10th consecutive quarter in which Gibraltar has reported higher sales and earnings. Lipke said the latest results were the product of the national manufacturing and distribution "footprint" that Gibraltar has assembled through a string of acquisitions.

Lipke said the majority of the sales growth was due to higher unit volumes. A smaller boost came from higher selling prices, partly in response to higher prices for steel.

Timothy Hayes, an Eden native who works as an equity analyst at BB&T Capital Markets in Richmond, Va., said he was impressed that Gibraltar topped even the earnings estimate that the company had revised upward in late June.

Of the metals companies followed by his firm, "they seem to be one of the best at delivering on guidance," he said.

BB&T Capital Markets makes some market in trading Gibraltar stock, and expects or intends to seek investment compensation over the next three months with Gibraltar.

Lipke said Gibraltar hopes to capitalize on its various acquisitions by creating a more efficient national distribution system, especially in its building products category.

For instance, he said, Gibraltar supplies mailboxes to all 1,600 Home Depot stores around the country. But the vast majority of Gibraltar's other products go into only 350 of Home Depot's locations, something Gibraltar hopes to change, he said.

"We've got to build a better distribution system," Lipke said.

Hayes, of BB&T Capital, said creating that distribution system is part of Gibraltar executives' push to take advantage of the steady sales growth the company has enjoyed, and to transform the company.

"They want to transition from steel processor to one that is known more readily as a manufacturer of end-use products," Hayes said.

Gibraltar has maintained its appetite for acquisitions. In early June, it completed its deal for the powdered metals division of SCM Metal Products.

Lipke said the company has reached a level where it can consider a larger pool of potential acquisitions, including smaller publicly traded companies that might be interested in merging.

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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