While JBT AeroTech's fourth quarter revenue of $84.8 million declined 18 percent, operating profit of $8.0 million improved 10 percent compared to the prior-year period. The lower revenue reflected continued weak demand for JBT AeroTech's ground support equipment product line from both airline and airfreight industries. Cost savings from restructuring initiatives, improved project margins for the gate equipment product line, and favorable mix of higher margin products more than offset the impact of lower revenue. As a result, JBT AeroTech operating margin for the quarter was 9.4 percent - the best performing quarter in 2009, reflecting a 230 basis point increase from the prior-year period. Inbound orders totaled $67.1 million, down 9 percent from the same period last year, primarily due to timing of contract awards for the gate equipment product line and down 8 percent sequentially from the third quarter of 2009. Inbound orders for the ground support equipment product line were slightly higher than the prior-year period, pointing to an apparent bottom in demand decline for this product line. Backlog of $114.7 million was down 17 percent from the prior-year quarter and down 13 percent sequentially from the third quarter of 2009.
Corporate expense in the quarter was $4.4 million, down $0.6 million from the fourth quarter of 2008, reflecting lower expense levels.
Other expense, net of $2.1 million declined $1.5 million versus the prior-year quarter, primarily driven by the absence of unrealized foreign exchange losses recorded in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Cash generated from operating activities in the quarter was $20.9 million. The company ended the quarter with debt, net of cash, of $117.8 million, a reduction of $15.0 million from the third quarter of 2009. Net interest expense for the quarter was $2.2 million.
The year-to-date effective tax rate from continuing operations was 32.9 percent.
Full-year capital expenditures totaled $19.8 million and depreciation and amortization totaled $22.6 million.
The company anticipates improved market conditions for many of its product lines in 2010. However, smaller projects and longer project lead-times have limited the company's visibility into 2010. As a result, the company will provide a market update during tomorrow's earnings call and will consider providing earnings guidance with its first quarter 2010 earnings report.
JBT AeroTech's revenue of $83.7 million decreased 29 percent from $117.1 million in the same period of 2008, primarily driven by continued weak demand for GSE.
JBT AeroTech's third quarter revenue of $78.6 million decreased 32 percent from the same period in 2008.
Company expects to report a decline of $5 million in sales and $2 million in operating profit.