Financial reports: Black Box, Hydron

Black Box Issues 4Q Earnings Advisory

Networking products and services provider Black Box Corp. (NasdaqNM: BBOX) expects to report operating earnings of $0.71-$0.72 a share, excluding a restructuring charge of $3.5 million, for its fourth quarter ended March 31. That’s below Street estimates of $0.77 a share. The company will report its financial results on May 14.

Pittsburgh-based Black Box also estimates fourth-quarter revenue at about $160 million. A Thomson Financial/First Call survey of four analysts had produced a mean revenue estimate of $174.15 million for the quarter.

The company said it incurred the $3.5 million restructuring charge after cutting 77 positions in its European and Latin American operations and closing offices in Seattle and New York. With communication equipment sales slumping, Black Box has cut its work force substantially. In all, Black Box has 3,715 employees, down from 4,700 employees a year earlier.

Hydron Narrows Annual Net Loss In the midst of a makeover, personal care products manufacturer/marketer Hydron Technologies (OTC: HTEC.OB) enjoyed a 48% rise in fourth-quarter sales, to $631,170 for the three months ended Dec. 31. But Hydron’s net loss widened 34%, to $167,577 from $125,256 the previous fourth quarter.

Throughout the year, Hydron has shifted sales to television retailers. Sales to television retailers decreased 67% primarily reflecting the termination of a television sales agreement. Sales to television retailers represented only 18% of the company’s sales in 2001, down from 50% last year. Catalog sales increased 21% due to an increase in new customer promotions and the continuation of promotional offers to existing customers.

Net sales for 2001 were $2.0 million, down from nearly $2.1 million in 2000. Whereas sales to television shopping channels and other TV retailers had accounted for 50% of its revenue in 2000, last year they brought in only 18% of the company’s sales, following termination of a significant sales agreement. But catalog sales increase 21%. Even better, Pompano Beach, FL-based Hydron narrowed its net loss 18%, to $758,696 from $923,632 the previous year, primarily by cutting selling, general, and administrative (SGA) expenses.

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