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Manitowoc, Crane Maker, Digs Itself a Hole

Manitowoc disappoints investors with an unexpected loss in its third quarter.
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MANITOWOC, Wisc. (TheStreet) -- Manitowoc (MTW) - Get Manitowoc Company, Inc. Report, crane builder and industrial restaurant-equipment maker, disappointed investors with an unexpected loss in its third quarter.

The weakness clearly derived from the larger of the company's two segments: cranes, where sales plunged 52% to $480 million from a year ago. Manitowoc attributed the poor year-over-year comparison to the still-strong order book in the third period of 2008, before the economy fully took a nosedive after the financial crisis hit.

Though the company didn't provide specific guidance in the release, Manitowoc offered a rather underwhelming look ahead. In a statement, Chief Executive Glen Tellock said, "While improvement in the U.S. and European markets is not expected in the near term, there are pockets of growth in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East."

Midday Friday, shares of the company were trading at $9.21, down $1.24, or nearly 12%, on volume of 5.7 million shares. Average daily turnover is about 6.2 million shares.

Excluding items such as restructuring charges, Manitowoc said it lost $4.9 million, or 4 cents a share. Wall Street analysts were, on average, looking for a profit of 2 cents a share. Including the charges, the company's bottom line showed a loss of $17.7 million, or 14 cents a share. A year ago, it lost $26 million, or 20 cents a share.

Overall, revenue fell 20% to $882 million from a year ago.

The results were in contrast to other heavy-equipment makers, including the diversified giant

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Caterpillar Inc. Report

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and the mining-machinery specialist

Bucyrus

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, both of which reported better-than-expected quarterly numbers.Manitowoc, however -- with its tower cranes, telescoping cranes, mobile hydraulc cranes and lattice-boom crawler cranes -- is more exposed to the still-devastated construction industry than many other names in the heavy-equipment sector.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.