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Troubled PCC press on track to return

Keywords: Tags  aerospace, Precision Castparts, Mark Donegan, forging press, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — A large forging press that’s been a "headwind" for Precision Castparts Corp. (PCC) for more than a year is due back on-stream after an extended outage.

Mark Donegan, the Portland, Ore.-based company’s chairman and chief executive officer, told securities analysts at a recent Citigroup Inc. conference in New York that a program to refurbish a 29,000-ton press in Houston last year is "on plan" for completion in the current quarter with "no surprises."

When asked this past week if work on the press was complete, a PCC spokesman said the company has only disclosed that the maintenance shutdown would take eight weeks in the quarter ended Sept. 30 and is "on schedule."

PCC first revealed the Houston press was contributing to "significant headwinds" for the investment castings, forgings and airframe products producer last year upon releasing its fiscal second-quarter earnings results (, Oct. 25).

Components of the 29,000-ton press that were expected to last 20 years instead lasted only five years.

The company had temporarily "de-rated" the press back to its original 25,000-ton rating and "offloaded" work that required a 29,000-ton press to the 35,000-ton press at its Wyman-Gordon forging unit in Grafton, Mass.

Donegan earlier this year said "inefficiencies" at the press still hadn’t been remedied, adding that it probably wouldn’t be back to normal until the "back half" of the company’s fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2014 (, May 9).

Donegan told Citigroup conference attendees that the press was "migrated" from 25,000 to 29,000 tons before it was acquired by PCC, but the upgrade wasn’t done properly and the press’ columns and sleeves eventually failed. This quarter’s work on the press should be "the last step" in bringing it to a legitimate 29,000 tons.

The current quarter’s outage on the Houston press, combined with PCC’s normal annual forge press maintenance outages, will have a $20-million impact on PCC, Donegan told analysts in July.

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