Feb 15, 2006 Akron Beacon Journal Polymer and plastic products maker Myers Industries Inc. ended 2005 on a high note. But it wasn't easy getting there, particularly with record high raw material costs the last couple of months of the year, the Akron company reported Wednesday. Nevertheless, Myers Industries, which sells to a broad range of industrial and consumer industries including automotive, home care and agricultural, reported record fourth-quarter and annual revenue and said it had its highest fourth-quarter earnings in six years. ``We're looking to continue to improve in 2006,'' said John Orr, president and chief executive officer. The company reported net fourth-quarter sales of $231.4 million, up 5 percent from $221.4 million reported a year ago. Net income was nearly $8.7 million, up 25 percent from $6.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2004. The numbers would have been better but a weaker euro hurt fourth-quarter sales and earnings, Myers said. For all of 2005, Myers Industries had record net sales of $903.7 million, up 13 percent from a year ago when the company reported sales of $803 million. Raw material prices rose 30 percent to hit record highs in 2005, the company said. It was able to partially offset those higher prices by passing along some of the higher costs, coupled with increased expense controls and productivity gains. Shares of Myers Industries rose $1.02 to $15.42. So far this year, resin prices are pulling back from the record prices, Myers said in its release. Orr said it's likely the company will be able to pass along high raw material costs to customers. A key to Myers' continued strong financial results will be to develop new niche but high-profit products, Orr said in a conference call with industry analysts. One such product is the ``Citadel'' plastic container. The bulk container stores 300 gallons of tomato paste made from California tomatoes for transportation on railroad cars to processing plants where the paste is then used in such things as sauces and ketchup. The Citadel containers are stronger and last longer than the wood containers that were previously used, Orr said. Another profitable niche product is the brightly colored ``Picture Pot'' the horticulture industry uses for container plants sold at national home improvement chains. The company makes millions of plastic Picture Pots a month -- the containers are manufactured with plant care instructions on the side, eliminating the need to put small plastic sticks with care instructions into the containers.
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