Ceramic Industry

Oneida Reports Year-End Loss

March 7, 2001
Oneida Ltd. kept alive its 65-year streak of quarterly dividend payments, but cut the amount by half recently after posting a $1.3 million loss for the year. Oneida, the world's largest maker of flatware, lowered the dividend from 10 cents per share of common stock to 5 cents as part of its plans to revive shrinking profits. Company spokesman David Gymburch said the last time the dividend was reduced was in July 1986 when it fell from 20 cents to 10 cents. Company officials downplayed the dividend reduction and the bottom- line loss pointing to other signs that the 121-year-old company is recovering its financial health. Excluding the costs of restructuring and other one-time expenses, Oneida said it finished the year with income of $23.2 million, or $1.41 per share, while seeing its total sales rise 4% to nearly $516 million.

Faced with shrinking sales after years of prosperity, Oneida last year began to restructure itself after fending off a fierce buyout bid from its biggest rival, Libbey Inc. It closed plants in Italy and Canada and targeted up to 10% of its 4400 worldwide jobs for elimination. It also embarked on a massive inventory reduction plan to rid itself of poor-selling products, initiated an aggressive marketing program and introduced new patterns.