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Gibraltar swings back to profit

Gibraltar Industries swung back into the black for the fourth quarter of last year, reporting a profit of $25.2 million compared to a net loss a year earlier of $7.7 million.

The Hamburg-based maker and distributor of building products said it earned 78 cents per share in the fourth quarter, reversing a 24-cent-per-share loss in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Revenues rose 11 percent to $258.1 million in the fourth quarter, exceeding the company's expectations. The growth was led by sales in its residential and renewable energy businesses, which offset the company's decision to get out of its U.S. bar-grating product line and its European residential solar racking business at the end of 2016. Those businesses generated $16 million in sales in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The company also cited lower costs for compensation plans and a $12.5 million benefit – equal to 39 cents per share – from the federal tax reform legislation that passed at the end of December.

Not counting such special factors, Gibraltar's adjusted profits rose 39 percent to $13.2 million, or 41 cents per share, from $9.5 million, or 30 cents per share.

For the full year, Gibraltar said profits rose 86 percent to $63 million, or $1.95 per share. Revenues fell 2 percent to $987 million because of softer demand in its industrial and infrastructure segment. Adjusted profits rose 3 percent to $55.3 million, or $1.71 per share, on a 4 percent gain in adjusted revenues.

“We ended a strong year with fourth-quarter results that exceeded our top and bottom line guidance,” said President and CEO Frank Heard. “Three years into our five-year transformation strategy, we have made tremendous progress both operationally and financially.”

Sales of Gibraltar's residential products rose 13 percent to $105.3 million on strong demand in the repair and remodel and the new housing markets, as well as growing demand for centralized mail systems and electronic package solutions.

Revenues from industrial and infrastructure products fell 20 percent to $49.1 million, because of the sale of the bar-grating business, but were up 4 percent otherwise because of organic growth. Renewable energy sales rose 34 percent to $103.7 million, as domestic demand overcame the loss of the European solar market business.

Heard said the company expects consolidated revenues for 2018 to exceed $1 billion, with profits ranging between $1.75 and $1.87 per share. For the first quarter, the company projected $213 million to $220 million in revenues, with profits of 20 cents to 25 cents per share.

“We enter 2018 with continued optimism about the year ahead," Heard said. "We plan to drive sustainable organic growth through the acceleration of new product development initiatives, continue to implement operational improvement projects, and to seek value-added acquisitions in attractive end markets. At the end of the year, on an adjusted basis, we expect once again to have generated increased profits at a higher rate of return with a more efficient use of capital."

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