Toro breaks even in Q4

Toro reported break-even net earnings of $13,000 on net sales of $341 million for the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31, compared to net earnings of $6.5 million on net sales of $332.5 million in the same period last year.

Net earnings in the fourth quarter were reduced by a pre-tax charge of $4.7 million, or $0.08 per share, on an after-tax basis. The charge was taken in its fiscal fourth quarter to account for work force adjustments, the company reported.

For the full year, the Bloomington, Minn.-based company reported a decline of 15.9 percent on net earnings of $119.7 million, or $3.10 per share, compared to $142.4 million, or $3.40 per share, in 2007. Net sales were flat at $1,878.2 million, compared to $1,876.9 million last year.

At the same time, international sales grew 12 percent to offset weakness in domestic business. Toro also generated a record $216 million in cash flow for fiscal 2008 -- $32 million more than the previous year -- and returned $133 million to shareholders through dividend payments and share repurchases.

Entering the new fiscal year, the company says its liquidity position is solid, as indicated by a strong cash balance and supporting committed credit facilities. “While our revenue growth was impacted for the year due to persistently difficult domestic market conditions, Toro and field inventories are down significantly and should benefit us in the coming year,” said Michael J. Hoffman, Toro’s chairman and CEO.