Schawk Shares Tumble On Losses

CHIP CUTTER

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Shares of digital imaging provider Schawk Inc. plunged nearly 6 percent Friday after the company reported sharply lower fourth quarter and year-end results, reflecting a steep decline in its consumer products packaging business.

The Des Plaines, Ill.-based company said Thursday it lost $58.4 million, or $2.27 cents a share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31. That compares with net income of about $7.8 million, or 28 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Excluding charges, the company lost a penny per share. Analysts were looking for earnings of 3 cents a share, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.

Schawk's sales slipped 23 percent to $108.9 million from $141.3 million in the year-earlier period.

The company, which provides graphics services to a variety of Fortune 1000 companies, said many of its clients delayed projects due to the recession, but are now becoming more active.

Sales at the firm's consumer products packaging division, which makes up roughly two-thirds of total sales, tumbled 22.6 percent to $69.3 million in the quarter, compared to $89.6 million last year.

The company also reported goodwill impairment charges of $48 million during the quarter and $5.3 million in charges related to acquisition, integration and restructuring expenses, among other charges.

Schawk also amended its debt agreements with bank groups and private lenders, the company said.

Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Craig R. Kennison wrote in a note that the new agreement reduces the firm's capacity and regulates financing and investing activities, but raises the company's leverage ratio for the next several quarters.

Still, he wrote that "we continue to advise investors to avoid the stock," due to a previously announced Securities and Exchange Commission investigation related to restatements of the company's 2005 to 2007 financial results and unknown first-quarter 2009 results.

Schawk officials did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

For the full year, Schawk's earnings fell to a loss of $60 million, or $2.24 cents a share, compared with net income of $30.6 million, or $1.10 a share, in the prior year.

Shares fell 43 cents, or 5.5 percent, to $7.41 in afternoon trading.

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