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LEO SMITH

Simi's Whittaker Corp. Pulls Back Into the Black

June 02, 1998|LEO SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Simi Valley's Whittaker Corp. was ready for an uphill climb last November. The company had just posted a fiscal 1997 loss of more than $160 million, on the heels of a fiscal 1996 loss of $17 million.

These days, though, the aerospace and communications manufacturer is looking at the opposite side of the ledger.

The company recorded net income on continuing sales of $5.9 million for the quarter ended April 30, compared with a net loss of $4.7 million for the prior year. For the first six months of the 1997-98 fiscal year, the company recorded net income for continuing operations of $6.2 million compared with a net loss of $7.2 million in 1996-97.

Whittaker also announced completion of an $85-million credit agreement with a group of investors headed by CIBC Oppenheimer.

"The airlines are very busy, flying a lot of miles, and that helps us because we get the after-market business," said John Otto, Whittaker's chief financial officer. "I expect the industry to continue to be strong and I expect we'll follow."

The credit agreement will go toward repaying Whittaker's $70-million debt and will fund further acquisitions, Otto said. He said the agreement will be divided into a $45-million revolving credit loan available over three years. The remaining $40 million will be a five-year loan, with the bulk payable over the final two years.

"It will significantly reduce our interest expense and, secondarily, it makes it possible for us to finance acquisitions in the aerospace industry," Otto said. "That fits with our aerospace controls and safety systems business."

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