Originally created 08/02/97

Foreign markets boost Martin Color-Fi

Edgefield-based Martin Color-Fi on Friday reported a 41 percent increase in second-quarter earnings over the 1996 quarter.

Good foreign markets for the carpet division of the polyester fiber producer and a good economy in the United States helped sales improve 7.8 percent for the first six months of this year over the first half of 1996, officials said.

Net sales for the second quarter rose 9.5 percent to $32.3 million compared with net sales of $29.6 million for the second quarter of 1996. Net income for the second quarter was $1.3 million, or 20 cents per share, compared with net income of $932,000, or 14 cents per share, for the same period in 1996.

For the first half of 1997, net sales were $59.5 million compared with $55.2 million in the year-earlier period. Net income for the first half of 1997 totaled $2.5 million, or 38 cents per share, compared with $857,000, or 13 cents per share a year ago.

The carpet division contributed to growth in sales the first half of 1997 compared with last year's first half, said Bret J. Harris, treasurer and chief financial officer.

"Sales from that division have grown dramatically since we bought it in 1994," he said. Sales went from $15 million in 1994 to $45 million so far this year.

"The economy is plugging along, doing well, and we are benefiting from that," Mr. Harris said.

The carpet division supplies manufactured housing, automobile and hotel-motel industries.

James F. Martin, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement: "We continue to expect improved sales and earnings for 1997."

Martin Color-Fi stock, which is traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market with ticker symbol MRCF, closed down 121/2 cents Friday at $7.50.


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