CHICAGO Empire Resources Inc., an international distributor of semifinished steel and aluminum products, posted net income of $3.96 million last year, down 20.1 percent from $4.96 million in 2011 despite a 4.6-percent increase in sales to $538.53 million on the back of higher shipment volumes in North America, South America and Australia.
"Our sales growth came from market share gains in South America and strong results in Australia and New Zealand, which more than offset the decline in European business, while we held our own in North America despite continued challenging economic conditions," president and chief executive officer Nathan Kahn said in a statement.
In addition, the company reduced inventory by $38.6 million, which enabled it to pay down $30 million in debt, and improved its inventory turn rate to approximately 2.9 times (or 4.1 months on hand) from 2.8 times (or 4.3 months on hand) in 2011.
The Fort Lee, N.J.-based company posted fourth-quarter net income of $913,000, up 15.4 percent from $791,000 in the same period a year earlier, on revenue that fell 20 percent to $109.52 million. Fourth-quarter shipments to all geographic regions except South America fell in the same comparison because economic concerns and uncertainty led to a drop in demand in December.
Empire Resources will pursue "new opportunities in both steel and aluminum across our global markets while continuing to serve as effective partners to customers and suppliers," Kahn said.