Omnova reports strong sales growth

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FAIRLAWN, OHIO (Feb. 9, 4 p.m. ET) — Omnova Solutions Inc. — a plastic materials, films and laminates maker in Fairlawn — weathered an up-and-down 2011 fiscal year.

The firm’s sales grew almost 54 percent to just over $1.2 billion in the year ended Nov. 30. Most of that growth was a result of Omnova absorbing Eliokem International, the French materials firm it bought in late 2010. Sales at Omnova’s legacy performance chemicals unit and at the new Eliokem business each grew about 17 percent.

The Eliokem acquisition was accretive to Omnova’s earnings in its first year, Omnova Chairman and CEO Kevin McMullen said in a recent news release. Omnova also reported record operating profit of $85.2 million for the fiscal year – but income from continuing operations plunged almost 86 percent to less than $17 million.

“While we are optimistic about the fundamental improvement we have made to the long-term business outlook for the Company, we are clearly facing some near-term headwinds with raw material price volatility and uncertain market demand,” McMullen said in the release.

Plastic materials produced by Omnova include specialty resins, elastomeric modifiers and emulsion polymers. The firm’s plastic products output includes pool liner films, performance films and laminates. The firm exited the plastic wall covering business in North America last year when it sold its wall coverings unit there to competitor J. Josephson Inc. for $10 million in cash. It is currently seeking a buyer for its European wall coverings business, which operates under the Muraspec trade name.

Omnova’s per-share stock price is off to a good start so far in 2012, climbing 15 percent since Jan. 1 to $5.30 as of late trading Feb. 9.