Ceradyne posts loss for quarter

Ceradyne, which manufactures body armor in Lexington, saw sales and profits drop in its third quarter as its solar business continues to struggle.

The California-based company, which is being acquired by 3M, said sales fell 28 percent to $106.2 million in the quarter compared to $148 million in the same period a year earlier. Driving that decline was decreased shipments of body armor and "very weak shipments" of solar products, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week.

The company posted a net loss of $23.1 million, or 96 cents a share, compared to a profit of $20.4 million, or 82 cents, in the same quarter a year ago.

The company announced in October that global products company 3M, which makes Post-it notes and dental products, is acquiring it in an $860 million deal. The deal, which will see Ceradyne shareholders paid $35 a share of the company, is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Ceradyne has suffered because its customers have excessive inventory of solar-energy products on hand and have reduced purchases. To deal with the problem, Ceradyne decided in the quarter to close one of its Chinese manufacturing plants. As part of the move, the company incurred a one-time charge that reduced earnings by $20.8 million.

Revenue from external customers for Ceradyne's Advanced Ceramic Operations division, which includes Lexington's operations, fell 28 percent to $53.4 million from $74 million in the same quarter of 2011. The division's third-quarter operating income fell much more, dropping 97 percent to $487,000 from $14.6 million in the third quarter of 2011.