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L.B. Foster’s tubular, rail sales offset construction weakness

Keywords: Tags  L.B. Foster, tubular sales, rail sales, construction sales, quarterly earnings, Robert P. Bauer, Corinna Petry

CHICAGO — L.B. Foster Co.’s rail and tubular business units have performed well enough to offset a "difficult" construction market, the company’s top executive said.

The Pittsburgh-based manufacturer, fabricator and distributor of rail, energy and construction products reported net income of $8.2 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, down 15.6 percent from a year-earlier $9.4 million, despite sales that rose 7.6 percent to $170.3 million.

"The company turned in another very solid quarter and is positioned to have a very good year in 2012," president and chief executive officer Robert P. Bauer said in a statement.

The company’s rail and tubular businesses "more than made up for a difficult construction market," even though tubular products represented only 8 percent of companywide sales in the quarter. "We have seen one of the strongest markets for our tubular products in many years as we benefit from exploration and production investments, especially in shale gas applications," he added.

"Many construction markets have had a difficult year, especially those depending on state and federal government funding of projects," Bauer said, adding that while Foster’s bridge business will have "an excellent year with strong sales and profit margins ... it will not make up for the decline in piling projects and concrete buildings that reflect the overall construction market softness."

Looking to 2013, the underlying dynamics for the rail and energy markets are good. There could even be "some rebound in the construction industry," he said, "barring any government policy issues with an unfavorable impact on the economy."

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