Briggs & Stratton Corp. on Thursday posted a profit in the recent quarter, reversing a year-ago loss, as sales of outdoor power equipment increased with improved weather.
The Wauwatosa manufacturer of small gasoline engines reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $7.8 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with a loss of $55 million, or $1.17, a year earlier.
The year-ago quarter included restructuring charges, goodwill and trade name impairment charges and a litigation settlement, Briggs said.
Sales for the three months ended in June increased 4.1% to $496.8 million.
"Despite a slower-than-normal start to the lawn and garden season this spring, we saw improved sales results for our engines and products due to the new, innovative products launched this year and market share gains made within the large-engine category," Todd J. Teske, chairman, president and chief executive, said in a statement.
"Our new pressure-washer product launches, and our commercial lawn-and-garden business, continued to perform well even as we saw reduced demand for generators in the U.S. following an uneventful storm season and lower preseason snow-thrower sales to our European customers," Teske said.
The estimated impact of the reduced storms on generator and related engine sales in fiscal 2014 was 20 cents per diluted share compared with 2013, which had storms including Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy, according to Briggs.
For fiscal 2015, the company projects net income to be in a range of $50 million to $60 million, or $1.07 to $1.27 a share, before any costs of acquisitions, additional share repurchases or restructuring actions. Briggs said its fiscal 2015 net sales are projected to be $1.88 billion to $1.94 billion.
The retail market for lawn-and-garden products will increase between 1% and 4% in the U.S. next season, Briggs estimated.
Teske also commented on the announcement that Briggs & Stratton would acquire Allmand Bros. Inc., a Holdrege, Neb., designer and manufacturer of towable light towers, industrial heaters and solar LED arrow boards.
Briggs agreed to pay $62 million for the company that generates sales of roughly $80 million annually.
Last month, Briggs announced it was closing a factory in McDonough, Ga., whose roots date back more than a century. Briggs acquired it in 2004 as part of its purchase of Simplicity Manufacturing Inc.
Briggs said it would move the factory's production of riding lawn tractors, pressure washers and snow-throwers to Wauwatosa in 2015. The move will nearly double the company's manufacturing workforce at the plant, where employees are represented by United Steelworkers Local 2-232.
Briggs hasn't announced hiring plans yet, but it says the increased production could get underway about a year from now after equipment is moved from McDonough. The company says it will not have to expand its Wauwatosa plant to accommodate the additional production.
Most of the new jobs will be on the assembly line, although there will be positions for skilled workers in trades such as welding, according to Briggs.