Key Tech sales down, but orders way up


Key Technology Inc. ended its first fiscal quarter with a decrease in year-to-year net sales but with one of the largest bookings for new orders in company history.

Net sales for the three months that ended Dec. 31 were down $6.1 million to $19.9 million, according to results reported Thursday. The Walla Walla-based designer and manufacturer of process automation systems reported a net loss for the first quarter of $874,000, or 16 cents per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $243,000, or 5 cents per diluted share, during the same period a year ago.

Gross profit for the quarter was $6.5 million, down from $8.6 million the previous year. The decrease was not unexpected, said Key President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Ehren in an announcement.

“Our lower net sales and the net loss for the first quarter were consistent with our previously stated expectations, and primarily reflected the composition of our backlog and customer shipping schedules,” he said.

He pointed out the company maintained its gross margin percentage for the quarter. He also said third-quarter workforce reductions from the prior year contributed to the company’s reduced operating expenses compared to the previous year.

New orders received during the quarter were $38.1 million, up from $26.6 million in the same period a year ago. Ehren said the first quarter’s ending backlog set a company record. New orders made up the second largest bookings quarter in the company’s history.

“Accordingly, we expect net sales and gross margins for the second quarter of fiscal 2013 to be noticeably improved compared to the prior-year period,” he said.


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