Thermoformer Ultra Pac Inc. expects to post a profit for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 — its first fourth-quarter profit in five years — and also anticipates a profitable year.
The Rogers, Minn., company has restructured and slimmed down significantly in the past few years. In June 1995 the firm had 620 employees; by March 1996 it employed 355.
``The company has improved management efficiency and reduced costs,'' said Ultra Pac spokesman Joe Jennings.
Within the past year, Ultra Pac has brought all its thermoforming in-house and now buys all its own resin to make PET sheet. In another effort to reduce expenses, company officials worked with resin, trucking, energy and corrugated packaging vendors to achieve more favorable pricing.
Jennings added that lower PET resin prices helped the company have very good second, third and fourth quarters.
When comparing past fourth quarters, this year's predicted moderate profit is quite an accomplishment:
In 1993, Ultra Pac's fourth quarter saw sales of $7.18 million, but a net loss of $869,000.
In 1994, fourth-quarter sales rose to $10.3 million, but with a net loss of $523,000.
In 1995, the company showed a net loss of $327,000 on sales of $13.4 million.
Last year, Ultra Pac had a net loss of $2.04 million in the fourth quarter on sales of $13.6 million. For the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 1996, the company posted sales of $66.1 million and a loss of $3.2 million.
One major change this year was that company officials scrutinized potential sales and did not pursue ones where profit margins were not acceptable.
Furthermore, Ultra Pac has paid off a $2.6 million term note that was extended in June. It has now paid down its long-term debt from about $29.1 million on Jan. 31 to about $20.8 million, through cash flow from operations. And interest rates have been reduced on its revolving line of credit, which is now $8 million.
``We are very pleased with this new financing arrangement,'' said Chief Executive Officer Cal Krupa. ``It was made possible by a turnaround in Ultra Pac's operating performance during the past year and reflects a much-improved balance sheet.''
Ultra Pac manufactures both virgin and recycled PET containers for the bakery, deli, produce, flower and takeout food industries.