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Economy and Business

Surviving the first quarter is just one of Timken's challenges
Pushed by institutional investors, shareholders will vote in two weeks on whether to split the company

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M.L. Schultze
Timken Co. made its name on roller bearings, and developed its steel business to support that.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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The Timken Company’s first-quarter earnings show its sales are struggling because of cutbacks in the mining and drilling industries. But the company sees better prospects for the rest of the year. And, as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, that could be important when shareholders vote in two weeks whether to split the more than century-old company.

SCHULTZE: Timken earnings and shareholder votes

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Timken’s first-quarter earnings report shows sales in its bearings, steel and aerospace businesses totaled $1.1 billion – down 23 percent from the boom first quarter of a year ago. Specialty steel sales were off the most, 35 percent – hurt by lower commodity prices and a ratcheting back by the oil- and-gas industries.

All of this comes as two major investors, the California State Teachers Retirement System and Relational Investors, are pushing to split Timken’s steel and bearing businesses into separate companies.

Stanley Elliott is an analyst with Stifel Financial. He notes that Timken did eke out a small profit despite major challenges.

“I think it was a reasonable quarter," Elliott said. "I think it was important that they, from their perspective, felt confident to affirm the full-year outlook, because ... with the vote coming up in two weeks, had they not been able to successfully manage this part of the downturn, that would have been more ammunition for those who are looking to split the company into two.”

But about the same time the earnings report appeared, a company called Institutional Shareholder Services provided a bit more of that ammunition. It’s advising shareholders to approve the split, though it acknowledges that something the Timken board will be unlikely to carry through, for now.


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