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Gardner Denver beats in 4Q

WAYNE, Pa. (AP) -- Gardner Denver Inc. said Friday that fourth-quarter profit improved and beat market expectations. The company also had no comment on reports that it would be acquired by private equity firm KKR & Co.

The industrial pump manufacturer announced in October that it would be reviewing its strategic options. Its shares jumped in late trading Thursday on media reports that KKR had made a $75 per share bid for the company.

Gardner Denver CEO Michael Larsen told investors on a conference call Friday that the company will not comment on the takeover rumors.

"We anticipate providing an update on the outcome when our board has determined a definite course of action," Larsen said.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that KKR appeared to be the only suitor getting in a bid ahead of a deadline for offers. Other firms, including TPG, Onex Corp. and CCMP Capital Advisors, were also interested in the company.

On Friday Gardner reported net income of $69.1 million, or $1.40 per share per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31. That compares with $77.4 million, or $1.52 per share, in the same period of 2011. Adjusting for restructuring, severance and other one-time costs, it made $1.49 per share.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $589.7 million.

The results exceeded market forecasts. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $1.33 per share on revenue of $558.1 million.

Larsen said that the company took actions during 2012 to improve productivity and reduce costs. He added that recent improvements in order rates and economic indicators are encouraging, but the company remained cautious in its outlook.

Gardner Denver forecast adjusted earnings of $5 and $5.25 per share for the year. Analysts forecast $5.31 per share. It also forecast adjusted earnings of 94 cents to $1.04 per share for the first quarter, while analysts estimated $1.18 per share.

Shares of the Wayne, Pa.-based company rose $3.93, or 5.8 percent, to $71.40 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $45.54 to $76.57.