Jack is back.

Foamex International Inc., one of the nation's largest manufacturers of polyurethane foam for seat cushions and mattresses, said yesterday that John "Jack" Johnson Jr. has returned as the Delaware County company's chief executive officer.

In Johnson's earlier CEO stint, between 1999 and 2001, Foamex had its last two-year period of sustained profit. Since then, the company lost money each year until returning to profitability in 2006.

Foamex, based in Linwood, filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2005 and emerged as a reorganized company with less debt in February.

Johnson, 66, began his career in the mailroom at the Atlantic Richfield oil refinery in South Philadelphia and then climbed the corporate ladder to president of Arco Chemical Americas.

After the bankruptcy restructuring and with stronger operations, Foamex has a debt level that will allow it to "bring new products to the marketplace and keep our [profit] margins," Johnson said in an interview yesterday.

In addition, Foamex's managers and employees can focus on running the business without the distraction of financial woes, he said. The company has 4,000 employees and 39 facilities.

Foamex has long-term debt of about $620 million, or less than 4.5 times earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation. Before the bankruptcy filing in 2005, Foamex carried a crushing long-term debt of more than $800 million, or nine times earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation.

In 2006, Foamex's revenue rose to $1.4 billion from $1.3 billion in 2005. Net income was $12.4 million compared with a loss of $56.2 million in 2005.

But its fourth-quarter sales fell to $310.7 million from $335.1 million in the year-earlier period. The company earned $1.1 million, or 3 cents a share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with earnings of $18.9 million, or 49 cents a share, in the year-earlier fourth quarter.

Market demand for its products weakened at the end of 2006, the company said.

Johnson, a Bryn Mawr resident, said he was excited to be back at Foamex, adding: "I'm a lot better at this than I am at golf."

Foamex also named Eugene I. Davis as nonexecutive chairman of the board.

Johnson and Davis replace Raymond Mabus, the former Mississippi governor, who resigned as chief executive and board chairman to return to his home in Mississippi, the company said.

Contact staff writer Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or bob.fernandez@phillynews.com.