Eastern Co. posts earnings

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NAUGATUCK — The Eastern Co.’s earnings have increased for the fourth quarter and full year of 2014, despite sales being flat in the quarter and down marginally for the year.

The 156-year-old manufacturer of industrial hardware, security products and metal castings last week posted net income of $2 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter. That is up 6 percent from $1.9 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, for the same period in 2013.

Net income for the full year was $7.7 million, or $1.23 per diluted share, an 11 percent gain from net income of $6.9 million, or $1.11 per diluted share, in 2013.

Fourth-quarter sales were $34.4 million, up from $34.3 million a year earlier. Sales for the entire year of 2014 were down 1 percent, however, from $142.5 million in the previous year.

Sales for both periods were “caused mostly because of lower military sales when compared to the 2013 periods,” Leonard Leganza, Eastern’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement.

The company improved earnings for both periods despite slight fluctuations in revenues by improving margins through cutting costs and increasing productivity, Leganza said last week.

“We do all these things while the general economy is soft, but that doesn’t stop us from executing our sales and marketing efforts,” he said. “We certainly don’t stop looking for new business.”

During the fourth quarter, Eastern established a plant in North Carolina to make lightweight composite panels for sleeper cabs for Class 8 tractor-trailer trucks, starting in this year’s second quarter. The location will enable the firm to expand its marketing and sales efforts of composite products throughout the eastern United States, the company said.

Also during the fourth quarter, the company acquired Argo Transdata Corp., a Clinton-based maker of printed circuit board assemblies for various industries, including measurement systems and medical and military markets.

Other companies Eastern said it has acquired since 2000 include Ashtabula Industrial Hardware Inc. in Ashtabula, Ohio, Greenwald Industries in Chester, and Summit Manufacturing in Bay Shore, N.Y. It has also acquired Royal Lock Corp. of Wheeling, Ill., certain lines of Hansen International in Lexington, S.C., and the Big Tag Division of Ontario-based Dolan Enterprises.

“We continue to seek out acquisition opportunities that make sense for the company, accretive to earnings and increase shareholder value,” Leganza said in a statement.

He said the company’s diversification, experienced management and solid financial position allow it to take advantage of strategic growth opportunities.

The company employs about 600 people in the United States and Canada, and another 300 in China.