TORRANCE, CALIF. — Summa Industries is headed toward its first $100 million fiscal year, and the publicly held company now has an eye on expanding globally.
The Torrance-based firm's sales were $8.1 million as recently as fiscal 1996.
So far, acquisitions and divestitures have involved domestic firms, but now, ``We are actively looking in Europe,'' said James Swartwout, chairman, president, chief executive officer and chief financial officer.
Summa is looking for successful plastic component makers that can provide continuity of management and employees, he said in an interview in Torrance.
However, he said most custom injection molders fail an initial screening for consideration. Most ``succeeded almost solely by the force of the person who was running that company,'' Swartwout said.
As announced June 21, Summa generated profit of $4.6 million on sales of $76.5 million for the nine months ended May 31. The stock hit a high of $13.125 in late Nasdaq trading June 21, closing at $12.625. The 52-week low was $7.
``Isn't it amazing when sound manufacturing and a strong economic backdrop make everything work right?'' Marcus Robins said in a telephone interview. Robins is editor in chief of The Red Chip Review and president and chief executive officer of parent Crown Point Publishing Inc. in Portland, Ore. The organization regularly analyzes about 250 small-capitalized and micro-cap stocks.
``The numbers are too compelling for people not to notice,'' said investor Jamie Wilen about Summa's latest results. Wilen is president of Wilen Management Corp. in Lutherville, Md., and holder of 250,000 shares or about 18 percent of Summa's outstanding common stock.
Summa's six operating units employ 800 and run more than 115 injection molding machines and 13 extruders in nine manufacturing plants and assembly sites in California, Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois, Florida and Oklahoma.
Swartwout believes a slight shift in the stock market's broad focus has helped Summa's investor strategy and helped boost its stock price.
``There appears to be some attention being paid to micro-caps and ... value-oriented companies that have modest capitalization related to their earnings stream and their book value,'' he said. ``Six months ago, neither of those categories was of any interest to anybody.''
Summa fits those categories and is spreading the word. ``We have a much more aggressive investor relations program this year than we have ever had in the past,'' he said. ``We have told our story hundreds of times to the investment community in the last six months'' through stockbroker and analyst conferences, office visits, broadcast and print media interviews and the usual Internet-fax-mail channels.
His usual presentation refers to a ``virtual'' corporate staff consisting mostly of a lean bench of three executives and a decentralized concentration of management talent in operating units.
Swartwout divides his work time into thirds: investor relations programs, corporate development-acquisitions and business operations. He retains outsiders as needed to produce investor presentation materials, annual and quarterly shareholder reports and advance work for money-manager visits.
Plastic operations involve optical components; modular conveyor belts and chains; various agricultural irrigation fittings, valves, filters and tubing; and winding cores for electrical components.