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Wisconsin Business Briefs: Oshkosh Corp. raises earnings forecast

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Wisconsin Business Briefs: Oshkosh Corp. raises earnings forecast
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

OSHKOSH - The Oshkosh Corporation has raised its earnings forecast for the current fiscal year, in the wake of stronger sales for its construction equipment.

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The company now expects to make between $2.80-and-3.05 a share, up from its previous range of $2.35-to-2.60. Oshkosh reported a successful fiscal first quarter, with a net profit of $46.5 million dollars from October-through-December. That's up from almost $39-million the year before. Earnings rose from 43-cents a share to 51-cents.

The growth comes despite a reduction in sales of the famous Oshkosh military vehicles. Those sales were down over six-percent in the last quarter, as the Pentagon scales back the war in the Middle East.

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Briggs-and-Stratton lost money in its most recent quarter. But the Wauwatosa maker of small engines had higher earnings than what outside analysts expected - and its sales grew, due mainly to the portable and stand-by generators Briggs sold to victims of Hurricane Sandy. But it wasn't enough to avoid an overall loss of $635,000 from October-through-December. That compares to a net income of two-point-seven million dollars in the same quarter of 2011. The loss includes re-structuring costs. Briggs says it's encouraged that the nation's housing market is starting to recover. That normally results in more people buying Briggs' lawnmower engines. But a lack of snow caused sales of snowmobile engines to go drop. Still, investors were encouraged by what they're hearing. Briggs' stock price rose by over 10-percent yesterday.

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Twelve groups have expressed an interest in a state-funded venture capital program that's being considered to help new high-tech businesses get off the ground. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation had asked so-called "angel investors" if they'd be interested in joining forces with the state. Nine firms with Wisconsin ties said yes, including a capital run by former state Financial Institutions' Secretary Lorrie Heinemann. Two companies were from New York, and one from Pennsylvania. Tom Still of the Wisconsin Technology Council said some big names in the venture capital world were among those expressing an interest. And he said it's an indication that the state should seriously consider creating some type of public-private venture capital arrangement. Governor Scott Walker has said it's one of his top priorities for the next two years. Gov. Walker says the program needs a quote, "bare minimum" of $25-to-30 million tax dollars in order to be viable.

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