It's been a busy week for industrial manufacturer Crane (NYSE:CR). On Monday, the company reported strong earnings from continuing operations of $0.99 per diluted share, a clean 15% increase over last year's Q1 results. The company would have done even better but for incurring a nickel-a-share charge for its purchase of MEI Conlux.

Simultaneously with the earnings news, Crane confirmed Monday that CEO Eric C. Fast, the man who led it to the strong quarterly finish, is just about finished with Crane himself. Fast intends to retire in Jan. 2014 after 15 years with Crane.

Crane says it will promote current President and Chief Operating Officer Max H. Mitchell to take Fast's post when he retires next year. Mitchell will be taking over at a time when Crane is at the top of its game. Announcing his exit yesterday, Fast boasted that he's handing over a company earning "record earnings per share and free cash flow," that's on track to post "a third year of record earnings performance," and one that was recently selling at "an all-time high" share price.

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