Springfield, MO

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Mueller reports drop in dairy-equipment sales

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Springfield's Paul Mueller Company reported May 11 first-quarter net sales of $17.4 million, compared to net sales of $17.2 million during the same period in 1997.

"Although the overall level of sales between periods was comparable, processing-equipment shipments increased by $1,652,000, while dairy farm equipment shipments declined by $1,436,000," Mueller's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said. "Lower sales were recorded for dairy farm equipment for both domestic and international markets, with the major portion attributable to decreased domestic sales."

The filing said part of the decreased domestic sales was due to concerns "about the potential for high feed costs and the government's involvement in domestic milk markets."

The company reported a gross profit rate of 27.5 percent for the three months that ended March 31, an increase from 24.6 percent in the 1997 period. $4.8 million in gross profit was recorded for the first quarter, compared to $4.2 million in the first three months of 1997.

The improved gross-profit rate was attributed to higher gross margins and lower net manufacturing burden because of higher absorption.

The company employs 900 people, of which about 800 are in Springfield, with about 100 employees at an Osceola, Iowa, facility.

"The average price paid to domestic dairy farmers for milk is expected to decline in the coming months, and this may have an adverse effect on sales of dairy farm equipment," Mueller management said in the filing. "The price of stainless steel is projected to remain stable for the balance of this year."

A sales backlog of $29.6 million was reported on March 31. On that date in 1997, a backlog of $28.1 million was reported.

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