UPDATED — Executives with materials maker A. Schulman Inc. have to be smiling after seeing full results for the firm's 2014 fiscal year.
Sales at Fairlawn, Ohio-based Schulman grew almost 15 percent to more than $2.4 billion in the year ended Aug. 31, while profit more than doubled to almost $57 million.
“Our team is highly focused and executing on our safety, smart sales [and] smart savings initiatives — and our 2014 results demonstrate what we can achieve,” Chief Operating Officer Bernard Rzepka said in an Oct. 22 news release. Rzepka will become Schulman's president and CEO on Jan. 1, replacing Joseph Gingo, who is retiring.
Schulman's engineered plastics business led the way in fiscal 2014, with sales growing 39 percent to more than $745 million. The firm's custom performance colors unit also saw sales grow 15 percent (to $174 million) and its specialty powders business saw sales increase almost 14 percent (to $350.5 million).
2014 was another busy year for Schulman, which ranks as one of North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrate makers. The firm paid $91 million cash in June for the specialty plastics business of Ferro Corp., then in September paid almost $7 million cash for Australian compounder and concentrate maker Compco Pty. Ltd. Schulman now has made 10 acquisitions in the last four years, spending almost $530 million in the process.
During the recent Fakuma trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, Schulman announced a deal under which it will produce, sell and distribute compounds made on polyphenylene sulfide resins made by Initz Co. Ltd. of South Korea. The deal covers all regions of the world except Asia.
During fiscal 2014, Schulman generated 64.5 percent of its sales and almost 61 percent of segment operating income from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Americas accounted for 27.5 percent of the firm's sales and almost 29 percent of operating income.
Slow growth in Europe was a factor in Schulman's Oct. 22 announcement that it would cut about 40 administrative jobs in Europe in the first half of its 2015 fiscal year. Most of those cuts will come from back office and support functions, officials said. The reductions are expected to create annual pre-tax benefits of about $4 million for the firm.
Like many publicly held firms, Schulman has had an up-and-down year on Wall Street in the 2014 calendar year. The firm's per-share stock price was above $34 in January and peaked near $42 in mid-year until it began to slide along with global markets. The price closed at $30.14 on Oct. 22.