Oct. 4, 2010 – Finance Digest

Suzuki’s overall sales rise in its first quarter

While its North American powersports wholesale revenue is down significantly, Suzuki Motor Corp. posted an increase in overall sales for its first quarter.
The Japanese manufacturer reported a nearly 14 percent sales increase over the year-ago period thanks primarily to increased sales of autos in Japan and a higher volume of two-wheel and four-wheel sales in Asia, a company press release stated.
However, Suzuki’s North American powersports wholesale sales fell dramatically. Wholesale motorcycle and ATV sales amounted to 4,000 units for the April 1-June 30 period, a sizable decrease from the 29,000 units a year ago.
Suzuki’s European sales for its motorcycle and ATV sales slightly increased in unit volume, to 28,000 units.
Suzuki’s marine division saw a 5.5 percent increase in sales for the quarter.
Overall, the company’s first-quarter sales totaled $7.7 billion. Suzuki also saw a considerable raise in its net income to $180 million. The company noted during the period that its profits were negatively impacted by exchange rates and it had increased R&D expenses.
Suzuki said it does not expect any changes from its previous business forecast, believing the company will see a slight uptick in its second-quarter sales as well as its full-year revenue.

Ramp manufacturer among fast-growing companies

Discount Ramps.com has once again ranked among the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, the company said in a press release.
Inc. magazine ranked Discount Ramps.com on its fourth annual Inc. 5000, and No. 158 in the retail industry. The magazine’s list represents a comprehensive look at America’s entrepreneurs.
“The leaders of the companies on this year’s Inc. 5000 have figured out how to grow their businesses during the longest recession since the Great Depression,” said Inc. President Bob LaPointe. “The 2010 Inc. 5000 showcases a particularly hardy group of entrepreneurs.”
Over the past three years, Discount Ramps.com has grown 60 percent, the press release stated.
“It’s not the products we sell that make us successful,” says CEO Joel Lederhause. “It’s how we sell them.”
The company’s sales and marketing models feature Internet and print advertisements and easy-to-navigate Web sites with an abundance of product information, pictures and video.
Founded in 2001, Discount Ramps employs 36 employees at its West Bend, Wis., headquarters and serves the powersports, mobility, automotive, heavy equipment, pet and bicycle markets.

Assurant’s earned premiums fall slightly in second quarter

Assurant Inc., a provider of specialty insurance and insurance-related products and services, reported slightly reduced net earned premiums for its second quarter and a reduced net income.
“We are well-positioned for the long-term despite the challenges created by a slow economic recovery and the continued uncertainty surrounding health-care reform,”?Robert Pollock, Assurant’s president and CEO, said in a press release.
Net earned premiums in the second quarter were $1.8 billion, down slightly from the year-ago quarter primarily due to a decline in premiums at Assurant Solutions.
Net operating income for the second quarter increased 53 percent to $152.2 million. Assurant Specialty Property again delivered strong results. Assurant Health operating results improved and included $17.4 million after-tax from a reserve decrease due to a legal settlement. Second-quarter results included a
$7.3 million after-tax restructuring charge for workforce reductions at Assurant Employee Benefits and Corporate.
Net income for the second quarter decreased 15 percent to $164.7 million.
Assurant’s net earned premiums in the first half were $3.8 billion, up slightly from the first half of 2009 primarily due to growth at Assurant Employee Benefits.

Bridgestone’s sales, net income rise significantly in first half

Bridgestone Corp. reported a significant boost in net income and net sales for its first half compared to a year ago.
Bridgestone’s net income totaled more than $520 million, a vast improvement over a year ago when the company ended its first half in a loss.
The company’s net sales improved 15 percent over the previous fiscal first half.
The company’s “Americas” sales increased a similar amount, up 13 percent over the year-ago period. Bridgestone’s European sales increased 11 percent and the company reported operating income after losses a year ago.
“In the first half of fiscal 2010 (Jan. 1-June 30), the company’s operating environment was plagued by rising prices for raw materials,” the company noted in its earnings report.
Bridgestone said it concentrated in its first half on increasing sales of highly competitive products, strengthening supply capacity and improving manufacturing productivity among other goals.

Former U.S. Sec. of Education added to UTI board

Universal Technical Institute Inc., a leading provider of technician training, has appointed Dr. Roderick Paige to serve on its board of directors.
Dr. Paige served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2001-2005.
“Our extensive search has culminated in an extraordinary addition to our board of directors,” said Kimberly McWaters, president and CEO of UTI. “The addition of Dr. Paige’s skill sets and experience in education will be a significant benefit to our board, employees, current and future students and other stakeholders.”

GEICO powersports division raises $25,000 for USO

GEICO National Powersports Director Tom Garner and GEICO Product Manager Analyst Heather McDonald presented a check for $25,000 to Bruce LaLonde, president and CEO of the USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia during a recent military concert in Virginia Beach.
“I’m proud of our GEICO team for their outstanding efforts to give back to the Virginia Beach community,” said Garner. PSB

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