Ceradyne hits 2008 earnings goals

Ceradyne Inc. said Tuesday that it reached its earnings target for 2008 but has lower projections for 2009.

Ceradyne announced earnings of $21.25 million, or 81 cents a share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with $35.2 million, or $1.28 a share, for the same months of 2007.

For the year 2008, Ceradyne earned $106.75 million, or $4 a share, compared with $144.3 million, or $5.20 a share, for 2007. Earnings for the quarter were reduced by 6 cents a share and for the year by 38 cents a share due to investment losses and the cost of acquiring SemEquip Inc. in August.

Ceradyne President and chief executive Joel P. Moskowitz said the company had hit its 2008 earnings goal of $4 a share on sales of $680 million, but delays in body armor orders from the U.S. military are prompting Ceradyne to lower its 2009 projections to $465 million to $500 million in sales, with earnings of $1.60 to $2 a share.

Ceradyne makes body armor and other ceramic products at plants in Lexington and in California. The armor is worn by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ceradyne employs about 200 people in Lexington. Another division, Semicon Associates, employs 80 people in Lexington.

The stock trades on Nasdaq as CRDN.