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Toro 4Q net income, revenue decline

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) -- The Toro Co.'s net income declined in its fiscal fourth quarter as revenue dropped mostly because of soft preseason demand for snowthrowers.

Last winter was a relatively mild one for most portions of the country, with minimal snowfall. This meant that many people did not feel the need to buy snowthrowers to clean their driveways and walkways. With such mild weather a year ago, many people are not rushing out this year to make snowthrower purchases in advance of any snow.

Toro, which also makes lawn mowers, outdoor lighting and other landscaping equipment, earned $251,000 for the quarter ended Oct. 31. Its results were breakeven on a per-share basis. A year ago, the company earned $5 million, or 8 cents per share.

Toro's earnings per share figures account for a 2-for-1 stock split effective June 29.

Revenue fell 8 percent to $339.3 million from $368.1 million.

Gross margin increased to 33.3 percent from 32.3 percent. Gross margin is the amount of each dollar in revenue that a company actually keeps.

For the full fiscal year, Toro earned $129.5 million, or $2.14 per share. That's up from $117.7 million, or $1.85 per share, in the previous year. A percent drop in the number of outstanding shares gave the per-share results a 10-cent boost for the year.

Annual revenue climbed 4 percent to $1.96 billion from $1.88 billion.

Chairman and CEO Michael J. Hoffman said in a statement on Wednesday that the company is pleased with its full-year performance, but that its results could have been even better if there was more snow this past winter. Hoffman said the limited snowfall lowered snowthrower sales by nearly 50 percent.

"While we hope for better weather for our business, that is out of our control," he said.

Going forward, Toro anticipates fiscal 2013 earnings of approximately $2.35 to $2.40 per share. Revenue is expected to rise about 4 percent to 5 percent. Based on 2012's $1.96 billion in revenue, this implies $2.04 billion to $2.06 billion.

Analysts, on average, were predicting earnings of $2.43 per share, with estimates ranging from $2.37 to $2.50, according to FactSet.

The company foresees first-quarter earnings of approximately 40 cents to 45 cents per share.

Toro's stock fell $1.53, or 3.4 percent, to $43.54 in morning trading on Wednesday. The stock has traded between $27.26 and $45.18 in the past 52 weeks, and ended Tuesday up about 49 percent since the start of 2012.