CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Milacron Inc.'s Plastics Technologies Group racked up record sales of $736 million in 1997, the company reported Feb. 5. Operating profit was up slightly.
Sales at Plastics Technologies increased 11 percent from $662.4 million in 1996. Operating profit for the plastics machinery segment was $59.7 million, up less than 1 percent from the 1996 profit mark of $59.2 million.
Milacron's plastics equipment includes injection molding machines, extruders, blow molders and mold bases and components through its D-M-E subsidiary.
Milacron said business improved for its injection molding presses in the second half of 1997 because of efficiency improvements in Europe and ``less severe price discounting in North America.''
Milacron laid off workers at its Ferromatik Milacron GmbH injection press plant in Malterdingen, Germany, early in the year.
U.S.-made extruders and D-M-E both had excellent years, the company reported.
New orders increased 10 percent, to $720 million, from $655 million in 1996.
The Plastics Technologies Group is now the largest of Milacron's three businesses, after sales in 1997 surpassed sales from Industrial Products Group, which makes products such as drill bits and grinding wheels. The company also has a Machine Tools Group.
Companywide, Milacron reported sales of $1.9 billion, a 9.6 percent increase from $1.73 billion in 1996.
Profit climbed almost 22 percent, to $80.6 million, from $66.3 million in 1996.
Daniel Meyer, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said Milacron was able to post a solid year even with continuing economic slowness in Europe, and the currency problems in Asia. Asia accounted for only about 9 percent of overall sales for the Cincinnati-based company.
``Our goals for 1998 are 7 percent sales growth and about 12 percent increase in earnings per share, which allows for continuing softness in Asian markets,'' Meyer said.
Meyer said the company could make a few small acquisitions, but the main focus will be on new products, expanding markets and boosting efficiencies.