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LABORATORY PRODUCTS PACE VARLEN 4TH QUARTER EARNINGS GAIN; MID-YEAR PICKUP CONTINUES THOUGH RESULTS FOR YEAR OFF DUE TO WEAK 1ST HALF

LABORATORY PRODUCTS PACE VARLEN 4TH QUARTER EARNINGS GAIN; MID-YEAR PICKUP CONTINUES THOUGH RESULTS FOR YEAR OFF DUE TO WEAK 1ST HALF
 CHICAGO, March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Paced by strong performance at its laboratory products companies, Varlen Corporation (NASDAQ/NMS: VRLN) today reported a substantial increase in net earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter, continuing the company's mid-year pickup.
 Richard L. Wellek, president and chief executive officer, noted that the final three months of the 1991 fiscal year represented the second straight quarter of increased earnings over comparable periods in the previous year.
 He noted that despite a drop in earnings and sales for the year, due to a soft first half, "all of the Varlen companies were profitable and were able to increase market share."
 For the three months ended Jan. 31, 1992, Varlen reported net income of $614,000 or 14 cents per share compared with net income of $26,000 or 1 cent per share in the year ago period. Sales for the quarter were $55,215,000, down from $58,294,000 during the comparable year-ago quarter.
 For the full year, Varlen reported net income of $3,130,000 or 70 cents per share on sales of $229,831,000, down from net income of $5,057,000 or $1.13 cents per share on sales of $242,786,000 during the previous fiscal year.
 Wellek said that operating profits for the year in the laboratory products segment more than doubled on an 11 percent increase in sales. Laboratory products are Varlen's newest business segment and are the result of a restructuring program begun by the company in 1988. Wellek noted that Varlen also benefited from a full year's results at Walter Herzog GmbH, its German laboratory products subsidiary acquired in July 1990.
 "Cost reductions, improved productivity and new and updated products helped us gain market share in a weak world-wide economy," Wellek said.
 "This somewhat offsets the sharp decline in sales and profits of our transportation group, which continues to feel the recession in the industrial economy."
 Varlen's transportation products companies reported a decline in sales and earnings reflecting a contraction in their served markets for the second straight year, the Varlen CEO noted.
 "Nevertheless, our transportation companies were able to out-perform their markets by continuous attention to cost reduction, new and revised product introductions and increased emphasis on customer service."
 Wellek said he believed Varlen's transportation companies were "well positioned for improved earnings and sales when their markets recover."
 He said Varlen's backlog of orders at the beginning of the 1992 fiscal year increased 10 percent to $33,000,000 from $30,000,000 at the end of December and was 15 percent higher than a year ago.
 Wellek noted that although Varlen had lowered its break even point through an aggressive cost reduction program, it had continued to reinvest in its businesses. Capital expenditures for the year of $8,000,000 were about equal to depreciation and were used for cost reduction programs, quality improvement, new products, and maintaining compliance with safety and environmental regulations.
 Commenting on Varlen's financial strength, Wellek said Varlen had reduced total debt to $58,000,000 from $65,000,000 as a result of positive cash flow from all operating units.
 Varlen is a diversified manufacturer of precision industrial products, primarily for the transportation and laboratory equipment markets. The company serves U.S. and foreign markets with operating locations in six states and Germany. Headquarters are in Naperville, Ill.
 VARLEN CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
 (In thousands, except per share amounts -- Unaudited)
 For the Fourth Quarter ended
 Jan. 31, 1992 Jan. 31, 1991
 Net sales $55,215 $58,294
 Net earnings $614 $26
 Net earnings per share $0.14 $0.01
 Weighted average number of
 shares outstanding 4,494 4,491
 For the Year ended
 Jan. 31, 1992 Jan. 31, 1991
 Net sales $229,831 $242,786
 Net earnings $3,130 $5,057
 Net earnings per share $0.70 $1.13
 Weighted average number of
 shares outstanding 4,492 4,492
 -0- 3/2/92
 /CONTACT: Richard L. Wellek, president and CEO, or Richard A. Nunemaker, vice president, finance and CFO, 708-420-0400 both of Varlen; or Nicholas G. Biro of O'Connor Biro & Associates, 708-498-2284, for Varlen/
 (VRLN) CO: Varlen Corporation ST: Illinois IN: MAC SU: ERN


JT -- NY089 -- 4188 03/02/92 17:11 EST
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Date:Mar 2, 1992
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