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Apr. 21, 2008 – Finance Digest

April 22, 2008
Filed under Features

Sparta to provide financing program for LS Motorsports
Sparta Commercial Services and LS Motorsports, the Houston-based distributor of Diamo, Italjet and Fischer powersports vehicles, announced the launch of a custom consumer financing and leasing program for all LS Motorsports brands.
The program will enable LS Motorsports dealers to offer a traditional type of installment loan product or a consumer lease to their customers who want to acquire any of the models of scooters, motorcycles or ATVs carrying any of the LS Motorsports brands.
“Until now, consumers who wanted a Diamo, Italjet or Fischer could only rely on their personal major credit cards, or some revolving charge program, in order to finance their purchase, both of which typically carry higher interest rates than the new LS Motorsports program,” Anthony Havens, Sparta’s CEO, said in a press release.
Mathu Solo, CEO of LS Motorsports, said, “The program offered by Sparta is a very simple but straightforward program that the consumer will appreciate. By offering our dealers a consumer financing option they cannot only increase their vehicle sales but also increase their sales of bolt-on accessories, which can also be financed.”

Bridgestone’s year-end revenue rises 13 percent
Bridgestone Corp. reported stronger year-end profits compared to a year ago despite rising raw material costs.
The tire manufacturer reported a 13 percent increase in net sales to $29.7 billion. The increase was due in part to an exchange rate gain on the weaker Japanese yen. The company’s net income rose 55 percent to more than $1.1 billion.
For the company’s tire segment, sales increased by 15 percent. Additionally, Bridgestone’s sales in “the Americas” rose by 13 percent over the previous year period to $13.2 billion. Sales in almost all operations rose compared to the previous year.
Bridgestone noted in its year-end financial report that it incurred a loss of $190 million in 2007 as a result of closing two tire plants.

ADP forecasting revenue growth for fiscal 2008
Automatic Data Processing (ADP) concluded its second quarter with 15 percent revenue growth over the prior year period.
The company reported $2.15 billion in revenue for its second quarter, which ended Dec. 31.
Pretax earnings grew 11 percent compared to last year’s second quarter.
The company’s dealer services segment increased revenue by 9.5 percent.
“Organic revenue growth continued to improve with 7 percent growth in the quarter compared with 5 percent growth a year ago,” Gary Butler, ADP’s CEO, said of the company’s dealer services group in a press release. “New business sales growth was very strong in both our North American and international business.”
ADP is forecasting 12-13 percent revenue growth for its fiscal 2008.

ARI reports positive second-quarter results
ARI released its second-quarter results, revealing increases in revenues, operating income and net income, according to a company press release.
Revenues increased 14 percent to $4.2 million over the second quarter in 2007. ARI’s operating income increased to $357,000, a rise of 37 percent compared to the same period last year. The company’s net income rose 35 percent to $335,000.
ARI CEO Brian Dearing says one business segment can be partially credited for the growth. “The improvement was due to the continued growth of our marketing services business, offset slightly by a decline in the catalog business,” Dearing said. “The lower catalog sales reflect the lack of overall growth in the shared dealer segment of the worldwide electronic parts catalog market.”

Assurant Solutions reports earned premium increases
Assurant Solutions, a provider of insurance and insurance-related products and services, reported net earned premium increases in both its fourth quarter and fiscal 2007.
The company’s net earned premiums rose to more than $678 million, a 10 percent increase over the prior year period. The year’s net earned premium increase grew 7 percent to $2.5 billion. The company said the quarterly and yearly increases were primarily driven by continued growth in domestic and international service contracts.
Assurant Solutions is part of Assurant Inc., which also has separate health, specialty property and employee benefits divisions. Overall, Assurant reported net earned premiums rose 8 percent over the prior-year period. Net income, however, decreased 9 percent to $653.7 million.

Lehman Trikes reports year-end revenue increase
Lehman Trikes recently reported a 37 percent increase in its 2007 fiscal year revenue.
The manufacturer totaled more than $19.7 million in sales in its 2007 fiscal year, which ended Nov. 30. The company earned more than $14.4 million in its prior fiscal year.
In other company news, Lehman announced Larry Strilchuk has resigned as the CEO and president effective March 31. Strilchuk had previously announced his intent to retire once a suitable replacement had been identified.
Dan Patterson Sr. has been appointed by the company’s board of directors to serve as the interim CEO and president. Patterson has been a member of the Lehman Board of Directors since July 2004. He is presently the chief operating officer of Lehman Trikes Inc. and CEO and president of Lehman Trikes USA.
Strilchuk will remain on the company’s board.

Tank Sports announces rise in sales, drop in overall profit
Tank Sports, a distributor of powersports vehicles, recorded a loss through its first three quarters, the company reported.
The distributor says it lost $1.5 million for the nine-month period, a sharp drop compared to the previous year when Tank reported a profit of more than $285,000.
Sales, however, are up compared to a year ago. Tank says its net sales of more than $9.8 million for the nine-month period is a 27 percent increase over the prior-year time. Tank attributed the revenue increase to improvements in its dealer network and a wider product line through recent acquisitions.
Overall profit was down, however, because of a number of issues, including increases in operating expenses, advertising and product liability and warranty insurances.
As of Nov. 30, 2007, the company said it had cash and cash equivalents of more than $1.5 million. Tank also reported recently entering into a loan agreement of more than $7.2 million to replace an existing credit line of $6.5 million. The company says the increase in credit line is needed to finance the purchase of inventory and working capital.
In its quarterly report, Tank said it currently has 580 dealers in the United States and hopes to reach a total of 900, including 100 exclusive dealers.
Tank also said it plans on spending more than $200,000 for marketing to dealers and the retail market in the next year.

Harley-Davidson CEO gets $4.1 million in compensation
The chief executive officer for Harley-Davidson received compensation last year that the motorcycle maker valued at almost $4.1 million, a 4 percent drop from the previous year, the Associated Press reported April 1.
Jim Ziemer’s compensation included $875,534 in salary, according to H-D’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That’s a slight increase from the base salary of $824,551 he received in 2006. That year, his total compensation was valued at about $4.25 million.
In the filing, H-D said no executives received bonuses because they did not meet performance incentive targets. The company’s profit fell about 10 percent in 2007.
In 2007, Ziemer also received $76,011 in other compensation, including a cash payment of $29,600 in lieu of other perks.
He also recieved stock and option awards with an estimated value of $3.14 million at the time they were granted, an increase from $2.36 million in the prior year.
The Associated Press calculations of total pay include executives’ salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.

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