Force Protection sees earnings tumble

Lowcountry military vehicle manufacturer Force Protection saw its earnings fall 85 percent in the first quarter of 2010, from $7.4 million a year ago to $1.1 million.

The Ladson-based company reported net sales of $134.9 million, down from $184.7 million during the first three months of 2009, according to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Force Protection saw its vehicle sales slip 69 percent during the period, from 136 to 42.

Force Protection CEO Michael Moody said in a press release that going into the year the company expected its first quarter results would be disappointing given such factors as the timing of awards and shipments.

“As such, we continue to anticipate that our revenue and earnings results will be heavily weighted to the second half of 2010,” Moody added.

Supporting this are awards announced during the past 30 days from the US Marine Corps collectively totaling approximately $123 million, for 30 Cougar vehicles for $24 million and modernization-related equipment and services for $99 million, gains that will begin to be recognized in the third quarter of 2010, he said.

Stock in Force Protection is trading for around $5.30 a share.

A glimpse into the Vatican’s Secret Archives

For centuries, the contents of the Vatican’s Secret Archives have been largely off limits. The archives hold some 10 million documents stored by the papacy over the past 1,200 years and take up more than 50 miles of bookshelves.

Yes, some of the archives’ records have been published in scholarly texts and most have been physically available to researchers since the late 19th century, but access has always been severely restricted.

But that is changing. Examples include a lavishly illustrated, commercially published volume titled The Vatican’s Secret Archives, which includes reproductions of 105 documents, including 19 that have never before been published.

The accompanying text rarely misses a chance to put the Holy See’s slant on history, according to The Economist, but is still a bibliophile’s treasure.

“There is a church donation from 809,” the publication writes. “There are letters to popes from potentates, including the Great Khan Guyuk, sent from Karakorum in 1246, and from saints like the barely literate French girl, Bernadette Soubirous, who was born at Lourdes and whose message had to be corrected four times by the secretary of her convent.

“There is correspondence with geniuses including Petrarch and Michelangelo, and a missive from that most notorious of cardinal’s daughters, Lucrezia Borgia. The book contains treaties and Concordats, a papal dispensation for Giovanni Boccaccio, a summary of the trial of Giordano Bruno, the award of a decoration to Mozart and some delightful curiosities,” The Economist adds. “One is a letter from native Americans to Pope Leo XIII. It was written on tree bark and sent from ‘where there is much grass in the month of the flowers.’”