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PGI Swings to a Profit

Despite lowered sales volume, Polymer Group posted a profit for the first quarter of $7.68 million, up 43% from $1.32 million in last year's first quarter and reversing a loss of nearly $7 million in the fourth quarter.

"We previously stated that we expected a strong first quarter and our results were ahead of expectations," said ceo Ronee Hagen when the results were posted last week. "We were able to fully benefit from the volatility of the raw material markets even in a tough economic environment. Our consumer disposable volumes were relatively stable during the quarter with the most significant impacts seen in the industrial markets as expected."

Profitability improved significantly over the prior year with first quarter gross profit up 22.7% to $52.6 million, representing a gross profit margin of 23.2% compared to 15.7% for the first quarter of 2008. Operating income for the quarter was $22.2 million, or 83.0% higher than the prior year period, and net income attributable to PGI was $9.6 million compared to $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2008.

"While we do not anticipate sustaining the margins achieved in the first quarter, we still expect the remainder of the year to show solid results," she said.

Sales fell 17.0% to $227.2 million for the first quarter. PGI attributed the decline to lower industrial sales, foreign currency exchange rates and lower selling prices reflecting lower raw material costs.

During the month of April, the company completed the installation of a new spunmelt line in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, to serve the North American hygiene and medical markets.

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