A “turnaround” in Columbus McKinnon’s automotive solutions business is helping the company maintain sales and earnings broadly in line with last year, in spite of falling sales in its core Products division.

CM’s financial results for the first quarter fiscal of 2001, which ended on 2 July 2000, showed net sales of $1.9bn and net income of $5.9m, compared with earnings of $6.4m on $1.8bn income in the same period last year.

“Fiscal 2001 is off to a solid start,” said president and chief executive officer Timothy Tevens.

He added: “We are especially encouraged by the turnaround achieved in CM’s Solutions–Automotive segment.” Sales in Solutions–Automotive rose more than $10m to $45.7m for the quarter. Income from the Products division, which includes hoists, cranes, chains and attachments, was down nearly $6m to $125.2m, prompting Tevens to comment on “continued softness in our Products segment largely due to generally lack- lustre industrial economic conditions”.

The future direction of the company remains unclear, however. In January of this year Columbus McKinnon appointed Bear, Stearns & Co. as financial advisers to investigate strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value. Tevens said that this process “was continuing as planned, although no decisions have been reached as yet.”