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Onex posts loss in fourth quarter, but big annual profit

Onex Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer Gerald Schwartz.


Investment firm Onex Corp. posted a $112-million (U.S.) loss for the fourth quarter but produced a large profit for the full year as the company generated sharply higher revenue in both periods.

Onex said late Thursday that its loss for the fourth quarter was wider than the $4-million in red ink it had a year earlier.

However, revenue jumped 25 per cent to $6.8-billion for the period.

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The company, which reports in U.S. dollars, also said its cash from operations during the quarter fell to $707-million from $872-million in 2010.

For the full year, however, profit soared to $1.6-billion from $197-million while revenue jumped to $24.6-billion from $19.7-billion.

The investment company's quarterly and full-year finances are often volatile because Onex frequently buys and sells companies, the value of its investments change and operating companies it owns face up and down business cycles in their industries.

"While global economic uncertainty persisted in 2011, overall demand for our industrial companies' products increased during the year," chairman and CEO Gerry Schwartz said in a release after stock markets closed.

"Most of our companies grew earnings and generated strong cash flow, allowing some to reduce debt levels and pay distributions."

Onex holds investments in a wide range of companies – in sectors ranging from door making and aerospace to electronics and software – including a large stake in electronics maker Celestica Inc.

Onex's businesses generate $35-billion of annual revenues and employ 210,000 people around the world.

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The Toronto-based private equity firm recently increased its investment in door and window manufacturer JELD-WEN Holding Inc. by 28 per cent to $864-million.

Onex also sold Husky International for $2.1-billion. Husky makes injection moulding machines for manufacturers and was sold to the private equity arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System and Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm.

Onex recently sold about 2.7 million shares of aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. earlier this year as well as U.S. ambulance operator Emergency Medical Services Corp.

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