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Despite big ’08 loss, Albany International looks to 2010

Despite big ’08 loss, Albany International looks to 2010

The recession slammed Albany International Corp. with an $80.9 million net loss during the fourth qu

The recession slammed Albany International Corp. with an $80.9 million net loss during the fourth quarter, but executives maintained an optimistic outlook for 2010.

The company manufactures specialized fabric used on industrial paper-making presses.

A host of problems — ranging from a $72.3 million goodwill impairment charge to unexpected downturns at Asian and European paper mills — contributed to Albany International’s heavy losses late last year. Net sales during the quarter fell 10.9 percent to $249.2 million.

The quarter’s net loss marked a drastic reversal from the $7.9 million net income it posted for the same period of 2007.

The rapidly deteriorating global economy during the quarter prompted Albany International to speed up a three-year restructuring initiative expected to end later this year.

“[W]e are preparing for a long and deep recession by accelerating and expanding the permanent, structural reductions in operating costs that would ordinarily have been implemented in a more measured pace over a longer period of time,” Albany International President and Chief Operating Officer Joseph Morone said in a Wednesday conference call.

In recent months, the company has announced plans to outsource to Texas its PrimaLoft insulation product manufacturing operation in Menands, close a Finnish dryer fabric plant and cut staffing by 25 percent at a German production facility.

Morone’s upbeat outlook garnered support from investors, who sent the company’s stock up 5.85 percent to $10.14 per share by the close of trading Wednesday.

The Menands-based manufacturer recorded a net loss of $75.7 million for 2008, down from a net income of $17.8 million for the previous year. During the same period, net sales slid 3.3 percent to $1.09 billion.

Morone said revenues could slump by as much as 15 percent this year. But he said “We are certain we are taking the steps necessary to deal with this recession and to leave us going into 2010 in a very strong position.”

It was a year earlier, while announcing the company’s 2007 financial results, that Morone declared plans to turn Albany International’s engineered composites division to become a second core business.

However, that goal for Albany Engineered composites, which makes landing gear braces for jets, hit a snag when Eclipse Aviation Corp filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. The filing forced Albany International to record a $10.6 million charge for accounts receivable and inventory stemming from the Albuquerque, N.M. private jet maker.

A Luxembourg company last month received a Delaware bankruptcy court’s approval to acquire Eclipse for $28 million. Morone said “the buyer has indicated to former Eclipse suppliers a desire to revive the company.”

Despite the Eclipse problems, Albany Engineered posted $9.6 million in fourth quarter net sales, up 10.43 percent from a year earlier. In November, Morone said he envisioned that division eventually achieving $400 million in annual sales.

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