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Sales rise but profit slips for A. Schulman

By: Frank Esposito

October 29, 2013

Materials supplier A. Schulman Inc. has wrapped up a 2013 fiscal year in which sales edged up but profit slumped.

For the year ended Aug. 31, Schulman posted sales of just over $2.1 billion, up 3 percent vs. the prior fiscal year. However, profit at the Fairlawn, Ohio-based compounder and resin distributor slipped almost 40 percent to just under $33 million.

The Europe/Middle East/Africa region accounted for almost 66 percent of Schulman’s sales in fiscal 2013, with the Americas generating 28 percent and the remainder coming from the Asia Pacific region. The Americas were the firm’s fastest-growing sales region in fiscal 2013, with sales up almost 8 percent.

In an Oct. 24 news release, Schulman Chairman, President and CEO Joseph Gingo said that for the past three years, the firm “has executed on our strategies and experienced steady growth despite a stagnant global economy.”

“I'm disappointed that we did not achieve another consecutive year of adjusted earnings per share growth for the company,” he added. “Despite our shortfall in the fiscal third quarter, we're encouraged by a stronger fiscal fourth quarter and believe that our decisive actions have put us back on track toward earnings improvement.”

Gingo also said that Schulman “saw signs of strength in Europe resulting in year-over-year improvement in sales and gross profit in the quarter."

Fiscal 2013 was an active year for Schulman on the M&A front, as the firm bought two compounding/distribution firms — Network Polymers of Akron, Ohio, and Perrite Group of Cheshire, England.

Schulman spent a total of about $100 million on those two deals. Network and Perrite have combined annual sales of almost $200 million. Schulman now has made eight acquisitions in the last four years.

Schulman also generated headlines in fiscal 2013 when it bid almost $600 million to acquire specialty chemicals maker and compounder Ferro Corp. of Mayfield Heights, Ohio. That offer, however, was turned down by Ferro management.

At Schulman, sales volume in pounds grew 2 percent during fiscal 2013 to just over 1.9 billion pounds. On Wall Street, Schulman’s per-share stock price was under $30 in January but was near $34 in early trading Oct. 29, for an increase of almost 17 percent.