Westchester Plastics, a division of Ametek Inc.'s industrial materials group, is for sale as part of a plan to reduce debt and boost stock value. Walter Blankley, chairman and chief executive, said Westchester is having a good year, with operating profit in the first half of 1995 up significantly from the same period in 1994. Ametek would not disclose figures.
``However, we do believe that the full value of the division may best be realized when Westchester Plastics is held by another company,'' he said.
The division, with 1995 sales expected to exceed $25 million, is a custom compounder of engineered resins for automotive parts, electronic and telecommunications housings and appliance components. Operations in Nesquehoning, Pa., and Wapakoneta, Ohio, employ about 300.
Ametek's board of directors launched its plan to enhance shareholder value in 1993, because the company believed its stock was undervalued, said Ametek spokeswoman Chelle L. Carlson. The plan involved reducing debt, increasing cash flow and restructuring business.
As a result, Ametek slashed dividends from 68 cents to 24 cents a year and bought back stock. This added $22 million to its cash flow, Carlson said.
Ametek also cut debt by $100 million in 1994, when it neared $150 million, she said.
The Paoli, Pa.-based company also invested $40 million in operations and product research and development. Part of the proceeds came from the completed sale of Ametek's Microfoam division in May for $37 million.
Ametek stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange at $13 when the plan was implemented and dipped to less than $10 with news of the dividend cut, Carlson said. Ametek traded at $16.38 on Sept. 26, with a 52-week high of $19.50.
Ametek - with sales of $775 million and operating income of $75 million - is a manufacturer of electrical and electromechanical products and materials engineered for niche markets.
The firm operates 24 of its 32 plants in the United States. Other Ametek facilities are in Italy, Denmark, England and Mexico.