Despite snowthrower challenge, Toro grows in 2012

Bloomington, Minn.-based The Toro Co. reported net earnings of $129.5 million for the full year ended Oct. 31, up from earnings of $117.7 million in 2011. 

Net sales increased 4% to $1.96 billion for its fiscal year. 

For the fourth quarter, Toro reported net earnings of $0.3 million, down from $5 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. Net sales decreased 7.8% to $339.3 million in the quarter. 

“The Toro Co. completed another record year with new highs for revenues and earnings per share,” said Michael Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and CEO. “While pleased with our performance, it could have been even better if not for limited snowfall around the world that reduced snowthrower sales by almost 50%."

The difficult fourth quarter was largely attributed to a weak demand for snowthrowers. "Other major product categories showed sales growth in the quarter, with positive momentum heading into the new fiscal year," Hoffman said.

In Toro's Residential segment, net sales for fiscal 2012 were $607.4 million, down from $623.9 million in fiscal 2011. Shipments of walk power mowers and riding products were up for the year due in part to the successful launch of the TimeMaster 30-in. walk power mower. For the fourth quarter, residential segment net sales were $102 million, down 28.9% from the comparable fiscal 2011 period due to reduced demand for snowthrowers. 

Residential segment earnings for fiscal 2012 totaled $57.9 million, up 6.4% from fiscal 2011, when a pre-tax charge of $4.7 million to account for one-time costs associated with a rework issue affecting walk power mowers resulted in a decline in earnings. For the fourth quarter, residential segment earnings were $6.7 million, down from $11.9 million in the comparable fiscal 2011 period. 

The company expects revenue growth for fiscal 2013 to be about 4% to 5%. 

“We are early in our fiscal 2013, and mindful of the challenging world-wide economic environment and, as always, acutely aware of the volatility of Mother Nature. Nonetheless, the outlook for our end markets appears promising. Golf rounds and revenues were up last year, housing and construction are showing signs of improvement, and the agriculture market continues to adopt more efficient methods of irrigation," Hoffman said.

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