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Gross profit margin was 37.9% of net sales in the first quarter of 2008, compared to 40.9% in the same period in 2007. The provision for income taxes was 36.3% in first-quarter 2008, compared to 36.1% in first-quarter 2007. New orders for first-quarter 2008 were $211.8 million, compared to $176.5 million for the same period last year. Total order backlog as of March 31, 2008, was $262.7 million, compared to $332.3 million at March 31, 2007.
Joel P. Moskowitz, Ceradyne president and chief executive officer, commented, “During the first quarter of 2008, we continued to make progress on our strategy of diversification through internal developments, as well as through possible acquisitions. A few brief highlights of Q1 include:
- Tom Cole Appointed Vice President Business Development. Tom previously served as president of Minco, Inc., which we acquired on July 10, 2007. Tom’s entire career has been in engineering and senior management related to industrial ceramics. I believe he will be a catalyst in moving the company forward in 2008 on several acquisition opportunities.
- Solar Energy Ceramic Crucibles. We continue to see increasing demand for our high-purity ceramic crucibles used in the manufacture of polycrystalline silicon for photovoltaic solar cells. We anticipate our proposed new 200,000-square-foot ceramic crucible manufacturing facility in Tianjin, China, will be in production early in 2009. This is in addition to the 98,000-square-foot ceramic crucible manufacturing facility we opened in 2007 in Tianjin, China.
- Ceradyne Stock Repurchase Plan. On March 4, 2008, we announced that Ceradyne’s board had authorized the repurchase of up to $100 million worth of our common stock in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. To date, we have purchased approximately 1 million shares at an average price of approximately $30 per share.
Ceradyne will host a conference call today (April 25) at 8:00 a.m. PDT (11:00 a.m. EDT) to review the financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2008. To participate in the teleconference, call (877) 717-3046 or (706) 634-6364. Investors or other interested parties may listen to the teleconference live via the Internet at www.ceradyne.com or www.earnings.com. These websites will also host an archive of the teleconference. A telephonic playback will be available beginning at 11:00 a.m. PDT today through 9:00 p.m. PDT April 29, 2008. The playback can be accessed by calling (800) 642-1687 or (706) 645-9291 and providing conference ID 43635399.