The Plastics Technologies Group of Milacron Inc. reported double-digit increases for both sales and operating profit in 1999, but said most of the sales gain came from an acquisition. Milacron officials said they are counting on a strong showing for new products at the upcoming NPE 2000 to boost sales this year.
Lower shipments of injection molding presses in North America and Europe were offset by sales gains in extruders, mold bases and maintenance supplies. In the Feb. 3 announcement, the company said greater profit contributions from North American extruders and blow molding machines countered the injection press decline.
On Feb. 1, Milacron also announced management changes at two units that have struggled lately: the Uniloy-Milacron blow molding machinery business, based in Manchester, Mich., and the Widia insert cutting tool business in Essen, Germany.
Martin Lakes has been named president of Uniloy-Milacron, headquartered in Manchester, Mich. Roland Bechtel was named chairman of the Widia's managing board. Bechtel had been general manager of the Ferromatik-Milacron injection press operation in Malterdingen, Germany. He succeeds Winfried Haag, who has left the company.
Lakes replaced Jim King, a 20-year veteran of Johnson Controls Inc. King will remain with the company through the transition.
"This was my decision to leave the company," King told Plastics News. Lakes left Milacron five years ago to become a senior vice president at Manitowoc Cranes Inc. in Manitowoc, Wis.
Milacron's Batavia, Ohio-based Plastics Technologies Group had 1999 sales of $904.2 million, a 13.5 percent increase from 1998. Most of the increase came from a full year of sales from Uniloy, which Milacron bought from Johnson Controls. in 1998.
Operating profit in the Plastics Technologies Group rose 11.2 percent, to $89.3 million. Milacron said extrusion and blow molding machines in North America offset global declines in injection presses.
Milacron is the largest U.S. manufacturer of plastics equipment. The company's stock closed Feb. 3 at $12.875, near its 52-week low of $12.062.
"It's ridiculously cheap," said Walter Liptak, who follows Milacron for McDonald & Co. in Cleveland. Even so, Liptak is not recommending the stock as a "buy" except for long-term, value investors.
"I'm worried about [higher] interest rates and the affect that's going to have on their plastics machinery and metalworking businesses," Liptak said.