May 14, 2007 – Finance Digest

Schwinn scooter manufacturer reports higher sales
Despite climbing scooter sales, Dorel Industries Inc., the company that owns Schwinn Motor Sports, reported a decrease in year-end revenue in its recreational/leisure segment.
Dorel, a global consumer products company, reported in its 2006 year-end financial report that its scooter sales had increased. Together with another new recreational offering (swing sets), the new products brought in an additional $15 million.
Reduced bicycle sales, however, led to a segment revenue decrease of 4.7 percent in 2006 to $328.4 million.
Fourth-quarter revenue in this segment also fell, dropping 6.3 percent from the previous year period.
Overall, the Canadian company reported a slightly higher full-year revenue of $1.7 billion, while its net income of $88.9 million dropped 2.6 percent from the previous year.

Bridgestone reports tire revenue gains
The increasing cost of crude oil and other raw materials was apparent in Bridgestone Corp.’s year-end financial statement.
The worldwide tire manufacturer reported an 11 percent increase in sales for its fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31, but its net income dropped 53 percent compared to the previous year.
The decreased 2006 net income of Yen 85.1 billion ($713 million) was due in part to elevating raw material costs.
Bridgestone says its sales gains came as a result of the company’s efforts to increase production capacity in strategic product lines, enhance productivity and benefits from their research and technology.
Bridgestone reported year-end sales growth in its Americas market (15 percent over the previous fiscal year), Europe (14 percent) and Japan (8 percent).

Shift4 to provide payment processing for H-D dealers
Shift4 Corp., developer of enterprise payment solutions, entered into an agreement with Harley-Davidson Dealer Systems to provide secure credit card payment processing.
Fully integrated with H-D’s Dealer Management System (DMS), Shift4 Corp.’s system allows credit, debit, check and gift card transactions to be processed quickly, accurately and securely.
Shift4’s $$$ ON THE NET (Dollars on the Net) is a comprehensive payment gateway that gives dealers the opportunity to replace stand-alone terminals with the new integrated solution, according to a news release.
$$$ ON THE NET allows H-D dealers to choose any bank and processor to achieve the best rates and service, according to a news release. In addition, H-D’s DMS is fully integrated with Shift4’s gift card processing partners to allow users to swipe, charge, report, and process balance inquiries from the place they charge credit cards.

GE’s commercial finance leads Q1 earnings boost
General Electric Co.’s (GE) first-quarter net income rose 1.5 percent, helped by the infrastructure and commercial finance businesses.
The Fairfield, Conn., industrial and entertainment company’s earnings increased to $4.5 billion, or 44 cents a share, from $4.4 billion, or 42 cents a share, a year earlier.
Revenue rose 5.7 percent to $40.2 billion, from $38.03 billion a year earlier.
“It was a solid first quarter despite a few headwinds,” GE Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said in a news release.
For the first quarter, GE’s commercial finance business rose 15 percent to $6.2 billion. Sales at GE Money rose 14 percent to $5.8 billion.
Immelt has cited challenges in GE’s U.S. mortgage business as one factor that affected results for the latest quarter.
Delinquencies at GE Money rose to 5.48 percent from 5.14 percent a year ago, with nearly all of that increase from its WMC subprime-mortgage business.
“We are not seeing any change in the credit quality of the portfolio globally from a delinquency perspective,” said Keith Sherin, GE’s chief financial officer in a news release.

Sparta Commercial launches new financing program
Sparta Commercial Services Inc., a New York-based powersports financial services company, began rolling out a new consumer financing and leasing program April 23 in cooperation with one of the nation’s largest online consumer lenders. Sparta would not disclose which bank it was working with.
The program was initially beta-tested for more than six months, beginning in late July 2006, and, after successfully integrating the allied bank’s online electronic processing systems with Sparta’s proprietary online iPLUS credit decisioning and contracting platform, the program is now fully automated and launched in 12 states. Another 10 states will be added in the second quarter, followed by a national rollout. The program is exclusively designed for consumers who want to purchase or lease virtually any brand of new or used motorcycle.
The cooperative program will focus on select consumers who apply for credit online with the Fortune 500 bank each month and, through an automated filtering mechanism that determines certain credit criteria, automatically feed the appropriate applications to Sparta’s online iPLUS system.

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