Techtronic, one of the world's biggest power tool makers, yesterday admitted that contract manufacturing sales would fall short of its target for last year by about US$100 million, drawing criticism from analysts who said the shortfall should have been disclosed earlier. Last month, Techtronic said only that sales in the second half of last year would be 11 per cent less than the first half, while on February 1 it told the media that sales for the second half of last year would fall by US$30 million and that its results for the whole of 2005 might miss market expectations. 'This latest disclosure was less than perfect, which might mislead people to think the magnitude of their decline in sales was not that big,' said an analyst. Yesterday's announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange also revealed that inventory problems in North America would affect four to six weeks of Techtronic's shipments in the fourth quarter of last year which in turn would affect 10 per cent of its sales to some North American customers. Raymond Jook, an analyst at SBI E2-Capital, said declining sales and inventory problems indicated that Techtronic's growth was slowing. 'It means the company is hitting a brick wall, although its stock price has been growing like crazy in the past three years. That's why we put a sell on this stock, because it's expensive,' he said. Techtronic said yesterday its net debt position was expected to be 65 to 70 per cent at the end of last year. Mr Jook said: 'As long as Techtronic can generate enough cash flow, it can repay its debt. But if there is a downturn, then it will be in trouble.' But another analyst added: 'The company will no longer have the financial muscle to make further acquisitions with such a balance sheet problem.' Techtronic, which had a turnover of $16.3 billion in 2004, said the stock exchange had requested that the company make yesterday's announcement. Techtronic's announcement on January 27 said the exchange was looking into the matter of selective disclosure of potentially price-sensitive information and would 'take appropriate action against the company, if necessary'. Techtronic's share price inched up by 0.35 per cent to $14.20 in trading yesterday.