- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2002

Danaher Corp. announced yesterday it would purchase a major printer manufacturer for $400 million as part of its ongoing efforts to grow and diversify.

The purchase of Marconi Data Systems, formerly called Videojet, creates a new business platform for Washington manufacturer Danaher, best known as the maker of Craftsman tools.

Marconi Data Systems controls about 20 percent of the global market in the manufacture of machines for printing and product identification, as well as printing ink. A subsidiary of London-based Marconi PLC, it may be best known for manufacturing the machine used to make the "born-on" dates found on beer cans and other products.

"When we look at Videojet, we see clearly the market leader in the space," said Danaher President and CEO H. Lawrence Culp Jr. in a conference call yesterday. "This is an excellent fit with both our platform criteria and our operating experience."

Chief Financial Officer Patrick Allender said in the call the purchase would add 2 to 3 cents to earnings in the first year it is completed. Danaher announced third-quarter earnings in October of $264.8 million, or $1.78 per share.

Yesterday's announcement underscores Danaher's aggressive growth strategy, which has included acquiring companies while most other firms have held back in the past year. Danaher last year completed the acquisitions of Microtest Corp. and United Power Corp., and placed a bid to take over Cooper Industries Inc., a Houston-based maker of tools and lighting fixtures. Last month it bought out Marconi Commerce Systems, the company's environmental-testing equipment unit for $325 million.

"Danaher's doing quite well, and it makes sense to acquire a good business in an economic downturn," said Brian Langenberg, an analyst with Wachovia Securities in Chicago.

Indeed, analysts and investors have remained supportive of Danaher even after it announced that it was feeling negative effects from the economic downturn and September 11. The company announced it would close 16 facilities and eliminate 1,100 jobs in 2002. Despite the news, the company's stock price has been unaffected, reaching a six-month high of $63.38 on the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 4. Shares of Danaher closed yesterday at $62.17.

Danaher executives have told analysts they see 18 product or service areas they would look to grow or acquire.

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