WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) ¿ Key Technology Inc., which makes automation systems for food processing, said Wednesday it will cut 7 percent of its staff, or about 40 jobs, in an effort to control costs.

Before the cuts the company employed about 565 staffers worldwide. Key Technology said the move will better position it to make its objectives for fiscal 2010. It will take a related $875,000 charge in the fourth quarter.

Key Technology will also book a $225,000 charge for not exercising its option to buy an additional 85 percent stake in Proditec SAS, after taking a 15 percent minority interest in March.

CEO David Camp said it wasn't the right time to exercise the purchase option, adding that the company will focus on its current line of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products.

The company said it received $8.2 million in orders from a North American vegetable processor which are expected to ship in fiscal 2010, which ended Wednesday. It expects orders and ending backlog for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2009 will total about $31 million.

Key Technology says earnings for the fourth quarter are expected to be below third-quarter results while sales are expected to be about even with that period. During the third quarter, company earnings totaled $455,000, or 9 cents per share, on revenue of $26.2 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, predict a fourth-quarter profit of a penny per share on revenue of $27.2 million.

Shares fell 22 cents or 2 percent to close at $11.03.
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