PITTSBURGH (AP) ¿ Respiratory and safety equipment maker Mine Safety Appliances Co. on Friday said its fourth quarter profit fell 22 percent, as better international sales overall failed to offset the effects of a recession in North America and Europe.

The company, which refers to itself as MSA, said net income for the last three months of 2009 was $12.7 million, or 35 cents per share, compared with $16.5 million, or 46 cents per share, in the prior-year period.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, expected profit of 34 cents per share.

Sales slid 18 percent to $236.1 million, from $288.8 million in the 2008 fourth quarter.

Mine Safety's products include self-contained breathing apparatuses, helmets and other protective gear.

Sales in the company's North American segment fell 35 percent in the fourth quarter to $104.4 million. Sales in its European segment slipped 6 percent to $66.4 million, while international segment sales rose 12 percent to $65.3 million.

"The effects of the global recession clearly affected our sales and net income performance," said President and CEO William M. Lambert. The company saw lower demand in industrial construction markets, and from government agencies and the military. Uncertainty regarding the recovery will continue to pressure profits, he said.

For the year, net income dropped 39 percent to $43.3 million, or $1.21 per share, from $70.4 million, or $1.96 per share, for 2008. Annual sales fell 20 percent to $910 million, from $1.13 billion in 2008.

In light trading, MSA shares added 95 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $25.63. The stock has traded between $15.82 and $29.60 over the past 52 weeks.

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