Mold maker Hallmark Technologies Inc. has hired an investment banker to help it find partners or other ways to increase the value of the company.
The Windsor, Ontario, firm retained Nesbitt Burns Inc. of Toronto ``to advise the board on strategic alternatives,'' Hallmark recently announced. Greg Balint, Hallmark president and chief executive officer, said options include partnerships and alliances.
Hallmark previously focused on automotive lens molds but recently began diversifying into other auto parts. Last spring it bought a majority interest in Maxim Tool & Mould Inc. of Windsor, a tool-builder for interior and exterior auto trim. Internally, Hallmark has expanded into fuel tank and trim molds.
Balint said in a telephone interview that Hallmark's profitability has suffered, mainly because of extreme pricing pressure among mold builders. Although the firm's sales increased about 6 percent to C$11.1 million (US$7.4 million) for the three months ended Sept. 30, its profit fell 73 percent to C$270,000 (US$179,000) vs. the year-earlier period.
Hallmark also cited higher expenses and delays in new vehicle programs among automakers for the profit slide.
Balint said Hallmark's work on a polycarbonate stop sign has not been a big drag on financial results. The firm developed a PC stop sign a few years ago and its partner, Allsign Products Inc. of Coral Springs, Fla., has been molding it.
Balint said more than 175 customers have bought the PC signs for evaluation but large-volume sales ``are taking a long time.'' He expects state and provincial approvals this year, followed by sales for expanded evaluation tests.
Hallmark also announced the election of three new board members to help it refine corporate strategy. They are: John Livens, president of Winchester Capital Management Co. Inc. of Boston; Lloyd Segal, president and CEO of Caprion Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Montreal; and Herb Lukofsky, president of Herb Lukofsky Consultants Inc. of Montreal. Former board members Clifford Sutts and Lawrence Patorius resigned. Sutts became secretary of Hallmark.