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A. O. Smith Corp. has posted first-quarter net earnings of $47.5 million, compared with $24.2 million in the prior-year quarter. Net earnings included an after-tax gain of $16.7 million, related to the sale of shares of Regal Beloit Corporation, which were received from the 2011 divestiture of the electric motor business.
First-quarter sales totaled $468.6 million, up 12% from sales of $417.4 million for the same period last year. The company cited first-quarter contributions from Lochinvar, which was acquired in August 2011, and an 18% increase in sales of A. O. Smith-branded product in China.
“Two highlights in the quarter came from our higher growth businesses,” said Paul Jones, chairman and CEO. “Lochinvar grew more than 10%, and our sales of A. O. Smith-branded products in China continued to grow at a double digit rate.”
Sales of the North America segment, which includes the U.S. and Canada water heater and boiler businesses, increased 10% to $353.3 million from first-quarter 2011 sales of $321.7 million.
Outside of North America, which consists of the China, India and Europe water heating businesses and the water treatment business in Asia, first-quarter sales totaled $124.2 million, up 18% from first quarter 2011 sales of $105.2 million. Higher sales of A. O. Smith branded products in China, driven in part by a pre-buy ahead of an April 2012 price increase, were the primary reason for the sales increase.
During the first quarter, A. O. Smith broke ground for a new 457,000-sq.-ft. water heater plant in Nanjing, China. The new plant will accommodate increased water heater demand as well as growth for new products recently introduced in the China market, including the heat pump, solar and combi boiler.