June 18, 2008 / 12:07 PM / in 9 years

ATS Automation swings to fourth-quarter profit

TORONTO (Reuters) - ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc (ATA.TO) swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, as it restructured its business as part of a plan to return to profitability, the company said on Wednesday.

ATS, which makes manufacturing and other industrial equipment, said it earned C$7.9 million ($7.8 million), or 10 Canadian cents a share, in the three months ended March 31, compared with a loss of C$80.8 million, or C$1.35 Canadian cents a share, in the same period the year before.

The company said the improvement in earnings in the quarter reflected operational improvements in its ASG segment, the gain of C$16.8 million on scrap silicon sold during the quarter and a reduction in expenses in the other divisions being wound down.

For fiscal 2008, the company posted a loss of 33 Canadian cents per share, compared with a loss of C$1.42 in 2007.

Cambridge, Ontario-based ATS said it was carrying out its strategy to restore profitability and that it had made good progress. It repeated that it would spend about C$30 million to improve operations but that the payback period on the costs was expected to be less than one year. Costs in the fourth quarter included C$11.1 million for restructuring and severance.

The company had revenue of C$186.5 million, up 10 percent from the year before, helped by strong order bookings. For the year, revenue was C$663.3 million, compared with C$614.5 in fiscal 2007.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Scott Anderson

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