"2010 was a transitional year for Chart, with our financial performance improving each quarter as we expected, due to improving global markets across all our business segments," stated Sam Thomas, Chart's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Fourth quarter orders were the strongest quarterly intake since the second quarter of 2008. In addition, fourth quarter orders improved 24% over a strong third quarter order level, and we finished the year with our best quarterly profit performance for 2010."
Mr. Thomas continued, "The recently announced Nitrogen Rejection Unit ("NRU") order in excess of $90 million signals the return of large project work in our Energy & Chemicals ("E&C") business and is a strong validation of the significant quote activity we have seen over the last year. We remain optimistic about additional large project opportunities in the E&C business. In our BioMedical segment, the SeQual acquisition, completed in late December 2010, expands our respiratory product offering with a portable oxygen concentrator. This product is experiencing the highest growth rate among our respiratory products and takes advantage of Chart's existing distribution network to drive incremental sales. We will continue to focus on acquisitions with above average growth potential going forward."
Backlog at December 31, 2010 was $236.4 million, up 28% from the December 31, 2009 level of $185.1 million, and 11% higher than the backlog of $212.6 million at September 30, 2010. Orders for the fourth quarter of 2010 were $182.2 million compared with third quarter 2010 orders of $146.8 million, an improvement of $35.4 million or 24%.
"The order improvement was led by our E&C business, where natural gas processing and natural gas liquids recovery projects continue to provide order opportunities, particularly in North America," said Mr. Thomas. "In addition, December monthly order intake in our Distribution & Storage ("D&S") operations was the strongest in two and a half years, led by mobile equipment and engineered system products. With customer-owned inventory at Chart sites down to very low levels, we have started to see an increase in bulk and transportable equipment orders, which also contributed to the improvement during the quarter."