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Harsco Corporation (HSC - Snapshot Report) recently announced that the company’s Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Salvatore D. Fazzolari has resigned from his positions.

Consequently, one of the company’s Director Henry W. Knueppel will serve as Interim Chairman & CEO while the Board conducts a search for a permanent successor.

Henry W. Knueppel has been a Director with Harsco since September 2008. He recently retired as the Chairman and CEO of Regal Beloit Corporation (RBC - Analyst Report) after having served the company in a variety of senior management roles at Regal Beloit since 1979, was appointed as CEO in 2005.

Meanwhile, Knueppel stated that although the company ended 2011 on an encouraging note, end-market conditions continue to be challenging and management has a tough job at hand to further strengthen its businesses, particularly Harsco Infrastructure and Harsco Metals & Minerals.

Earnings estimates for 2012 have declined in the last thirty days even though fourth quarter results beat estimates.

Harsco posted earnings of 36 cents from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with 15 cents in the year-earlier quarter, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 30 cents per share.

Sales for the quarter came in at $793 million, up 5% from $757 million in the year-earlier quarter. This missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $804 million. Movement in foreign currency translation decreased sales by $5 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with the year-earlier quarter. 

On a segmental basis, Metals & Minerals generated revenues of $372 million, remaining almost flat compared to the year-earlier quarter. Revenue from Infrastructure segment was $266 million, up 0.4% from $265 million in the year-earlier quarter.

The Rail segment generated revenues of $72 million, up 18% from the year-earlier quarter. Revenues from the Industrial segment were $82 million, up 38% from the year-earlier quarter.

In terms of business mix, Service revenues were $641 million, down from $646 million in the year-earlier quarter.  Product revenues improved to $152 million from $111 million in the year-earlier quarter.

For 2011, sales increased 9% year over year to $3.30 billion with a favorable effect of foreign currency translation escalating total revenues by approximately $104 million.

Going forward, Harsco  expects 2012 EPS to range from $1.55 – $1.70 and expects earnings per share from continuing operations (excluding the restructuring charge) in the range of 1 cent to 6 cents for the first quarter of 2012 compared to 15 cents in the first quarter of 2011.

We continue to maintain a Neutral recommendation on Harsco. Our recommendation is supported by Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term rating of Hold.

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