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Alliant commends Thiokol for 3rd quarter sales boost

But 20 jobs at plant in Magna have been cut

SHARE Alliant commends Thiokol for 3rd quarter sales boost

Minnesota-based Alliant Techsystems on Thursday said a 68 percent year-over-year rise in sales primarily from its ATK Thiokol Propulsion group boosted revenues in the company's third fiscal quarter.

The company, the world's top supplier of solid-fuel propulsion systems and the nation's largest manufacturer of ammunition, said it had net income of $21.6 million during the quarter, up from $1.7 million a year earlier.

Earnings per share from continuing operations rose 12 percent, from 84 cents to 94 cents. Wall Street analysts expected Alliant to report earnings ranging from 93 cents to 94 cents per share with a consensus of 93 cents a share, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.

Sales in the quarter, which ended Dec. 30, rose from $276 million to $464 million. ATK Thiokol Propulsion, formed after ATK acquired Thiokol in April last year, and higher sales of small-caliber ammunition were the primary growth factors, the company said.

ATK Thiokol propulsion has operations in Magna, near Promontory and at the Freeport Center in Clearfield.

"The ATK team is delivering results that are exceeding our targets for sales, profit and cash," said Paul David Miller, chairman and chief executive officer.

The company's aerospace group, which includes ATK Thiokol Propulsion, had third-quarter sales of $282 million, up from $120 million in the prior-year period. The company said new business from ATK Thiokol Propulsion boosted third-quarter orders to $365 million, up from $233 million a year earlier.

ATK has about 11,200 employees, including about 4,500 in Utah. That figure will drop a bit soon. The company cut nearly 20 positions at its Bacchus works in Magna that were part of a Titan program.

Spokesman Dave Nicponski said the cuts would be across the board.

ATK's defense group sales were up 14 percent, to $190 million, during the fiscal third quarter.

For the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company had net income of $43.7 million, down from $48.8 million. Net earnings per share was $1.93, down from $2.32 in the prior-year period. Sales were up 57 percent, to $1.3 billion.

The current year's results include one-time charges of 49 cents per share resulting from a non-cash charge for the early extinguishment of debt associated with the acquisition of Thiokol Propulsion, and 20 cents per share stemming from litigation related to a previously discontinued business.

ATK stock was trading at $74.90 early Thursday, up $3.20 from Wednesday's close. In the past year, the price has ranged from $40.67 to $93.40.

The company said it is raising its expectations for the fiscal year, with earnings per share from continuing operations rising to between $3.63 and $3.65. The company previously had expected a range from $3.60 to $3.63. In the fourth quarter, which ends March 31, the company expects to have earnings per share from continuing operations of $1.01 to $1.03.

Sales in the fiscal year should be between $1.76 billion and $1.77 billion, up from the previous expectations of $1.69 billion and $1.73 billion.

For fiscal year 2003, the company expects earnings of $4.17 to $4.21 per share, with sales of about $2 billion.

E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com