Clarcor finished 2012 on up note

Quarterly operating margin highest since '91, but outlook for '13 set below consensus

Filtration and packaging manufacturer Clarcor posted a profit of $36.3 million in its fourth fiscal quarter, up 5 percent from the year before after adjusting for an extra week of sales in 2011. Revenues rose 3 percent from the prior year to $293 million.

Diluted earnings per share for the quarter came in at 72 cents, two cents better than analysts had been expecting. Chris Conway, CEO of Franklin-based Clarcor, said he was "particularly proud of our operational execution" given the slow U.S. economic recovery and an uncertain environment in China and other key overseas markets. The Clarcor team squeezed almost $4.5 million out of selling and administrative expenses versus a year ago, lifting the company's operating margin for the quarter to 18.1 percent from 17.8 percent. That was the highest number for any three-month period since 1991.

Going forward, Conway said he expects Clarcor to post fiscal 2013 EPS of $2.45 to $2.60. As of Wednesday, the nine analysts following the company were expecting $2.62 per share. Conway said the uncertain economy in various parts of the world as well as "our general lack of forward visibility in some of our significant product markets" meant sales growth is expected to come in between 2.5 percent and 4 percent.

Shares of Clarcor (Ticker: CLC) traded down slightly to $46.90 after hours Wednesday after falling about 1 percent in regular trading. They're off about 3 percent in the past six months.