STAMFORD, CT -- Crane Co.'s Merchandising Systems segment posted sales of $92.5 million in the 2012 third quarter, compared with $98.9 for the same period a year earlier. The 6% decline reflected lower sales of vending machines and, to a lesser extent, payment systems, the manufacturer said. The segment's profit decreased $1.3 million, reflecting "deleverage" of the lower sales.
Companywide, Crane said that third-quarter 2012 earnings per diluted share, from continuing operations on a GAAP basis, had increased 12% to $0.97, compared with $0.87 in the third quarter of 2011. Third-quarter results included $0.02 per share of repositioning costs associated with previously announced actions initiated in the second quarter to improve the profitability of the company in 2013. Excluding repositioning costs, third-quarter earnings per diluted share from continuing operations grew 14% to $0.99, compared with $0.87 for the same period a year ago.
Third-quarter 2012 sales from continuing operations of $646 million were approximately equal to the same 2011 quarter, with an increase of $13 million (2%), offset by unfavorable foreign currency translation of $14 million (-2%). The quarter's operating profit rose 8% to $86.6 million, compared with $80.3 million a year ago. Excluding repositioning costs, continuing operating profit increased 10% to $87.9 million, and operating profit margin rose to 13.6%, compared with 12.4% in the third quarter of 2011.
"Crane reported record earnings per share in the third quarter, with strong execution across the organization, and I am particularly pleased with the margin improvement we achieved in our Fluid Handling segment," said Crane Co. president and chief executive Eric C. Fast. "We are on track to complete our previously announced repositioning actions by year end, which will positively impact 2013 earnings. Given our cautious outlook on the global economy, we continue to drive productivity initiatives and a cost-conscious culture across the company."
Sales from continuing operations for 2012 are expected to increase approximately 4%, or at the low end of the prior sales guidance range of 4%-5%. EPS is expected to be in the lower half of the previously announced guidance range of $3.75-$3.85.
Cash provided by operating activities in the third quarter of 2012 was $63.2 million, compared with $49.8 million a year ago. Cash provided by operating activities in the first nine months of 2012 was $79.3 million, compared with $65.0 million in the first nine months of 2011. Free cash flow for the nine months of 2012 was $59.3 million, compared to $37.3 million in the nine months of 2011.
The company repurchased 499,267 shares of its common stock during the third quarter of 2012 at a cost of $20 million. Its cash position was $281 million at Sept. 30, 2012, compared with $252 million at June 30, 2012, and $245 million at Dec. 31, 2011.
Crane Merchandising Systems, which has offices in St. Louis, MO, and a manufacturing facility in Williston, SC, is one of five organizations held by Stamford, CT-based Crane Co. Other units are involved in aerospace, electronics, controls, engineering materials and fluid handling. In 2011, Crane's five segments had net sales over $2.5 billion. Merchandising Systems' sales ranked No. 3 with sales of $373.9 million. Fluid Handling is the dominant segment, and reported almost $1.2 billion in sales last year.
CMS consists of two divisions that design and manufacture fundamental solutions for the automated retailing industry. Crane Vending Solutions manufactures vending machines under the brands National Vendors, Dixie-Narco, Automatic Products, GPL and Stentorfield. The vending segment also includes Streamware, a business that develops and markets management software. Crane Payment Solutions manufactures payment systems under the names CashCode, Money Controls, NRI (National Rejectors Inc.) and Telequip, It has offices in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa and markets payment systems in more than 75 countries.