Swiss-American instruments company Mettler Toledo has reported net earnings up 4 per cent to $24.2 million, or $0.53 per share on a diluted basis, on sales up 4 per cent to $320 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2003.
In local currencies sales were flat, but the company's chief executive, Robert Spoerry, noted that gross margins have increased over the course of 2003, helped by the company's cost-cutting efforts and particularly a consolidation of its manufacturing capabilities.
Mettler Toledo specialises in instruments for use in the laboratory, such as balances, pipettes and pH meters, as well as process analytics, industrial weighing and packaging control.
Spoerry gave an upbeat account of the company's future prospects, noting that a hike in R&D investment over the last few years has pain dividends in a product pipeline that is currently, he claimed, at a record level. The first fruits of this effort are a new generation of analytical balances, currently rolling out onto the market, which boast improved ergonomics and higher throughput than earlier models.
Mettler Toledo has also made progress in geographical terms, said Spoerry, and has expanded its product and services portfolio in Asia. This expansion also forms part of the company's restructuring drive and, in the fourth quarter of this year, it will complete the transfer of its production from South Carolina in the USA to China.
Operating income in the third quarter was constant with the prior year and cash flow generation was $36.7 million, a 21 per cent increase over the prior year.
In the coming weeks, Mettler Toledo plans to refinance its existing bank debt, which is due in May 2004, with a new facility. "Given the attractiveness of longer-term rates, we are exploring options to raise debt in the capital markets in conjunction with this refinancing," said the firm in a statement.