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10/17/2006

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WisBusiness Tuesday Trends
October 17, 2006

By Brian E. Clark

RISING

JT Packard

Jeff Cason hasn't done too badly for a small town party boy who didn't even graduate from high school. His hard work and industry connections have more than compensated for his lack of formal education, however.

Late last week, Cason sold Verona's JT Packard & Associates -- the backup battery system company he built up over the past 15-plus years -- to a California firm. No sales figures were released. But JT Packard is expected to have sales of $65 million this year.

Cason, 34, will stay on as chief executive of the company, which has 235 employees and has plans to build a nearly 70,000-square-foot warehouse and office complex in Verona.

See an earlier WisBusiness Q&A with Cason:
http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=64964

MIXED

Harley-Davidson

The Milwaukee motorcycle icon's third-quarter earnings topped analysts' estimate - and then some. Sales increased 14.3 percent on domestic motorcycle sales that far outdid the industry as a whole. Harley said it now plans to ship as many as 352,000 bikes this year, nearly 1,000 more than previous estimates.

The company reported net income of $312.7 million for the quarter that ended Sept 24. Earnings were 18 percent higher than the $265 million posted for the same quarter a year ago. But Harley released some bad news on Monday when it said it would build a manufacturing and assembly plant outside of Wisconsin for expanded production of its Big Twin motorcycle engines and transmissions.

The announcement followed a United Steelworkers union vote rejecting company's proposal to cut wages and benefits. The plant will employ several hundred workers. Harley said the jobs of current Milwaukee production workers are not at risk in the plan to build a new plant elsewhere in the United States. Wall Street apparently liked management’s tough stand. Its shares closed Monday at $66.65, topping the 52-week high of $65.76.

FALLING

Gannett

Gannett Co., the nation's largest newspaper publisher and owner of 10 newspapers in Wisconsin, is reporting a 12 percent decline in third-quarter earnings Wednesday on weaker advertising, stock option expenses and one-time gains in the same period a year ago.

Virginia-based Gannett, which operates USA Today and 89 other daily papers in the U.S., earned $261.4 million in the three months ending in September, down from $297 million in the comparable period a year earlier.  The company's CEO told Wall Street analysts in a conference call that the results reflected a "very challenging" advertising environment that softened further as the quarter progressed.


Written exclusively for subscribers. Tuesday Trends is Copyright © 2006.



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