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(April 26, 2001) -- Halo Industries, Niles, Ill., reported a 19% decrease in first-quarter net sales, to $97.7 million from $120.9 million in the year-earlier period. Net losses applicable to shareholders rose 498% to $27.5 million from $4.6 million last year.

The promotional products company's first-quarter declines follow a financially troubling 2000, which prompted Halo to bring a new CEO, Marc Simon, on board in February to initiate a cost-cutting strategy and oversee the sale of the company's marketing services units in order to focus on its core promotional products division, Halo Branded Solutions.

Halo reported net losses of $49.8 million in 2000 on $714.8 million revenue, compared with 1999 net losses of $13.5 million on revenue of $650.4 million.

The company is in negotiations to sell two of its marketing services divisions, brand identity and packaging company LAGA, Northbrook, Ill., and teleservices unit Market USA, Des Plaines, Ill. Halo expects to complete the sale of one or both of the units by the end of the second quarter. Halo has no plans to sell its third marketing services shop, Upshot, Chicago.

The company is also continuing the restructuring and cost-savings efforts initiated earlier this year, with the aim of improving annual profitability by $30 million. -- Cara Beardi

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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