May 2 - Manitowoc Company reported Q1 2014 sales of USD850 million, down 5 percent year-on-year over Q1 2013.

The Manitowoc Cranes division saw its sales decrease by 14.2 percent, although this was offset by a strong quarter from its food service division, which increased sales by 14.2 percent.

First-quarter 2014 net sales in the company's crane division totalled USD466.7 million, down from USD544.0 million in the first quarter of 2013. The decline resulted from the lower level of backlog at the start of the year coupled with some customer-related project delays, says Manitowoc. Sales in the first quarter of 2014 were driven primarily by activity in the Americas region, as well as ongoing growth with tower cranes in the Middle East.   

Crane segment operating earnings for Q1 2014 amounted to USD22.6 million, down from USD34.9 million in the same period of last year. This resulted in an operating margin of 4.8 percent for the first quarter of 2014 versus 6.4 percent for the first quarter of 2013. First-quarter 2014 margins were affected by lower sales volume that was only partially offset by ongoing operational efficiencies, said the company.

"We remain encouraged by the opportunities for our Crane segment, as our exhibit at ConExpo was met with tremendous success and once again demonstrated the importance of innovation to our customers and the construction industry," said Glen E. Tellock, Manitowoc's chairman and ceo.

"The introduction of our patented variable position counterweight crawler crane technology drove order intake to its highest level since before the recession, further supporting our belief that the market is beginning to rebound. While we do not believe the market is robust given uneven demand in some product lines and regions, we will maintain our focus on driving growth and enhancing our profitability in this segment," he added.