Lower credit rating and other Lexmark news

Standard & Poor's recently downgraded Lexmark International's corporate credit rating from BBB to BBB-.

The review came, according to analyst Philip Schrank, because Lexmark's fourth-quarter earnings were lower than expected.

Standard & Poor's rates borrowers from a low of D to as high as AAA. Lower ratings can mean paying higher interest rates on debt.

Lexmark's rating of BBB- keeps it on the last rating above non-investment grade, commonly called junk bond status.

Company spokesman Jerry Grasso noted that "Lexmark has a very strong financial position" and closed 2008 with "nearly $1 billion in cash and marketable securities."

Restructuring costs

At its recent analyst meeting in New York, Lexmark executives discussed many of the company's cost-saving measures, including its freezing of salaries worldwide.

On top of $110 million in savings from previous restructurings, chief financial officer John Gamble Jr. said the cost-saving measures will deliver an additional $75 million in savings in 2009.

In addition to freezing salaries, those moves include "reductions of incentive compensation, significant reductions in travel, reductions in marketing expenditures and consolidation of our worldwide supply chain organizations."

Volunteer of the year

Lexmark has named Lexington's James Maupin as its volunteer of the year for his work with organizations that include Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass.

Maupin, a packaging engineer in the company's inkjet division, has been a Big Brother for three years through Lexmark's mentoring program at Deep Springs Elementary School and now serves on BBBS' board of directors.

As part of the award, Lexmark will donate $2,500 to the organization on Maupin's behalf.

He also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, KET and United Way of the Bluegrass.

Comings and goings

Greg Survant, who headed Lexmark's laser printer research and development since May 2001, retired earlier this year. Replacing him is Ben Streepey, previously vice president and general manager of business supplies for the laser printer division. Streepey has been with the company since its inception in 1991 and was responsible for the introduction of the Optra and Optra S printer lines, the industry's first 1,200 dots-per-inch laser printers.

Rick Pelini, who has served as Lexmark's treasurer since 2003, has taken a job as treasurer at Lennox International, a firm that works in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration markets. Lexmark has promoted assistant treasurer Bruce Frost to replace Pelini.

Executive Sharon Brindley, who was among those cut as part of a sales restructuring late last year, has been hired by Zebra Technologies. The company named her on April 14 as vice president, North America sales, for its specialty printing solutions. She will be based at the company's headquarters north of Chicago. Zebra's products help companies track assets, transactions and more with specialty digital printers, identification solutions and more. Brindley had headed Lexmark's relationship with the vast network of resellers that pitch its printers to businesses.