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Solar Equipment Firm Spire Slashing Staff

BEDFORD, Mass. ( TheStreet) -- Spire (SPIR) reported in an SEC filing Thursday that it would terminate 21 full-time employees -- representing approximately 9% of the solar equipment manufacturer's workforce -- to reduce operating expenses and improve cost structure. Spire expects the layoffs to be completed by the end of March.

Four employees who were involved with Spire's medical products group would be let go -- not surprising, given that Spire recently sold that group to C.R. Bard (BCR).

The sale of the medical group was already seen as a move to make Spire more efficient and focused on solar. Spire said in the SEC filing that it anticipates severance expenditures of $430,000, and an additional cash expenditure of approximately $60,000 representing payments of accrued vacation benefits to terminated employees.

Spire's profit margin has fallen for four consecutive quarters. Spire's operating margin is also down approximately 40% since the fourth quarter of 2008.

The layoff-related expenses will total a pre-tax charge of approximately $490,000 in fiscal year 2009. However, Spire hopes the layoffs will lead to a pre-tax savings of approximately $2.5 million per year beginning in the second quarter of fiscal 2010.

Spire opened up on Thursday morning , but at $5.53 per share, is still way below its 52-week high of $9.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.


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