Chattanooga-based Astec Industries reported a 38 percent jump in fourth-quarter sales and grew profit to $8 million, an increase of $2 million from the fourth quarter of 2010.
Astec, which manufactures equipment for mining and road construction, said Tuesday it sold almost $1 billion worth of machinery during the year, a sign that it is emerging from the worldwide recession that gripped the heavy construction industry for several years.
For the fourth quarter of 2011, the company boosted sales to $263.2 million, up from $190.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Astec's earnings during the fourth quarter of 35 cents per share were bolstered in part by the growth of international sales, which increased to $116 million in the fourth quarter. International sales expanded to 44 percent of Astec's sales, up from 37 percent of all sales in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Domestic sales grew 23 percent in the fourth quarter to $147.1 million, but shrunk as a percentage of Astec's total sales to 56 percent from 63 percent in the fourth quarter of the prior year.
It was a busy year for J. Don Brock, chairman and CEO of Astec, who said he is happy with the company's numbers for both the quarter and the year.
"The numbers alone, unfortunately, do not show the great effort that our employees and managers put into making our company perform and in preparing it for future growth," Brock said.
"During the year," he said, "we acquired two companies, started a new joint venture company in Brazil, bought two new facilities, expanded three of our existing facilities, negotiated the sale of the utility product line and developed a number of new products."
For the year, Astec sold $955.7 million worth of equipment, a 24 percent increase from 2010 when the company posted sales of $771.3 million. Yearly profits were $39.9 million, or $1.74 per share, compared to $32.4 million or $1.42 per share in 2010, an increase of 32 cents per share.
Domestic sales for the year grew 18 percent to $561.4 million, or 59 percent of net sales. But domestic sales shrunk as a percentage of total sales, which included $394.3 million in international revenue, a 34 percent sales increase.
International sales grew as a percentage of total sales to 41 percent, up from 38 percent of total sales in 2010.
Excluding $4.5 million in charges during the year, earnings were $42.7 million, or $1.86 per diluted share.
The manufacturer's domestic backlog grew by a third to $148 million, compared to $111 million at the end of 2010. The international backlog at the end of 2011 was $131.6 million compared to $122.1 million at the end of 2010 -- an increase of 8 percent.
Throughout 2011, Astec continued to pour money into research and development, and worked to diversify its sources of revenue from road construction into mining and other segments, the company has said.
An enthusiastic Brock noted Tuesday that as Astec's development program bears fruit, investors can expect more great things out of the company going forward.
"The magnitude of product development far exceeds the expense and effort of any prior year," Brock said. "We believe that the products that were and are being developed will expand our presence in all segments of the energy, mining and infrastructure markets."