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ASHLAND REPORTS SMALL MARCH QUARTER PROFIT; IMPROVED RESULTS IN FIRST FISCAL HALF

 ASHLAND, Ky., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Ashland Oil, Inc. (NYSE: ASH) today reported net income of $1 million, or 1 cent a share, for the quarter ended March 31, 1993, the second quarter of its current fiscal year.
 This included a $9 million after-tax gain on the sale of its TPT inland waterway barge operations. These results compare to a loss of $13 million, or 23 cents a share, in the second quarter last year, which has been restated to reflect changes in accounting for nonpension retiree benefits and income taxes. The 1992 quarter included a $7 million after-tax gain from an insurance settlement. Sales and operating revenues were $2.4 billion for the quarter just ended and $2.2 billion in the same quarter last year.
 For the six months ended March 31, 1993, Ashland had net income of $26 million, or 43 cents a share, compared to restated income of $10 million, or 16 cents a share, in the period a year ago, but excluding the cumulative effect of the accounting changes. Sales and operating revenues were $4.9 billion in the 1993 period and $4.8 billion last year.
 "Although the March quarter is traditionally our most difficult earnings period, we were encouraged by substantially higher results for the first six months," said Ashland Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John R. Hall. "Improvements in both periods were due to excellent performances from several of our non-refining businesses.
 "Ashland Chemical's operating income of $29 million was a record for the March quarter," Hall said. "Valvoline had another strong quarter, with $13 million in operating income, exceeding last year's results by 15 percent. Operating income of $13 million from SuperAmerica was substantially higher than last year's quarter and led to a record first half for this subsidiary."
 Ashland Petroleum, Ashland's refining and wholesale marketing division, continued to operate at a loss due to weak refinery margins stemming from excess refining capacity and traditional seasonal weakness. Refinery margins, while still somewhat weak, improved in March and April as the industry reduced crude oil runs and demand improved. Ashland Petroleum currently is operating profitably.
 APAC construction operations reported break-even results for the quarter, reflecting Ashland's policy of deferring winter costs and charging them to operations over the remainder of the year. However, APAC ended the quarter with a construction backlog of $613 million, the highest in company history.
 Ashland Exploration's natural gas production topped 100 million cubic feet per day for both the quarter and the first six months. Although operating income declined to $3 million for the quarter, it was up slightly for the six months. Ashland Exploration is benefiting from improving spot natural gas prices, but the benefits have been partially offset by a natural decline in Nigerian crude oil production coupled with higher exploration costs for domestic operations and an extensive seismic program on new offshore blocks in Nigeria.
 Equity income from coal operations declined for the quarter, as Arch Mineral posted a small loss and Ashland Coal reported lower earnings due to continued weak market conditions and increased mining costs. Mining costs included payments made by subsidiaries of both coal operations as part of a mutual assistance agreement among members of the Bituminous Coal Operators Association in connection with the recent selective strike by the United Mine Workers of America.
 "In summary, strong results from several of our non-refining businesses led to significantly improved results for the quarter and the first six months," Hall said. "Total operating income from non-refining businesses increased 29 percent for the quarter and 12 percent for the six months, and we are optimistic about the outlook for these businesses for the remainder of the year.
 "While our refining operations had a difficult quarter due to poor industry conditions, we are encouraged by recent improvements in refinery margins," he added. "As a result, we are cautiously optimistic that our refining business will have better results in the second half of our fiscal year with the advent of the spring and summer driving season and the traditional upturn in demand."
 ASHLAND OIL, INC.
 (In thousands except per share data -- unaudited)
 Period Three Months Six Months
 Ended Mar 31 1993 1992(A) 1993 1992(A)
 REVENUES
 Sales & Operating
 revenues (including
 excise taxes) $2,385,614 $2,242,266 $4,940,470 $4,752,052
 Sales & Operating
 revenues (excluding
 excise taxes) 2,228,345 2,081,225 4,620,515 4,424,053
 Total revenues
 (including excise
 taxes) 2,413,728 2,257,369 4,985,674 4,785,659
 RESULTS OF
 OPERATIONS
 Operating income
 (loss) $ 30,372 $ (2,150) $ 87,548 $ 47,962
 Interest expense-net (31,792) (31,461) (63,441) (61,454)
 Equity income 3,805 14,063 12,546 23,812
 Income taxes (1,550) 6,175 (11,070) (482)
 Income (loss) before the
 cumulative effect of
 accounting changes 835 (13,373) 25,583 9,838
 Cumulative effect of
 accounting changes -- -- -- (267,442)
 Net income (loss) $ 835 $ (13,373) $ 25,583 $ (257,604)
 EARNINGS (LOSS)
 PER SHARE
 Income (loss) before
 the cumulative
 effect of accounting
 changes $ .01 $ (.23) $ .43 $ .16
 Cumulative effect of
 accounting changes -- -- -- (4.58)
 Net income(loss) $ .01 $ (.23) $ .43 $ (4.42)
 AVG COMMON SHARES
 & EQUIVALENTS
 OUTSTANDING 58,976 58,230 58,971 58,225
 SALES & OPERATING
 REVENUES (B) (B)
 Ashland Petroleum $1,124,643 $1,051,340 $2,342,931 $2,290,368
 SuperAmerica Group 429,350 430,185 911,719 901,988
 Valvoline 239,283 219,690 444,759 416,132
 Chemical 640,290 599,729 1,257,546 1,156,626
 Construction 169,817 154,036 444,502 434,205
 Exploration 60,180 62,031 136,674 133,643
 Intersegment sales (277,949) (274,745) (597,661) (580,910)
 $2,385,614 $2,242,266 $4,940,470 $4,752,052
 OPERATING INCOME
 (LOSS)
 Ashland Petroleum $ (6,103)(C) (20,183) (13,956)(C) (26,908)
 SuperAmerica Group 12,664 2,373 30,687 13,193
 Valvoline 12,818 11,139 26,037 23,811
 Chemical 29,487 22,962 47,998 49,831
 Construction -- -- 10,508 13,779
 Exploration 2,589 8,069 23,227 22,577
 General corporate
 expenses (21,083) (26,510) (36,953) (48,321)
 $ 30,372 $ (2,150) $ 87,548 $ 47,962
 EQUITY INCOME
 Arch Mineral Corp. $ (439) $ 8,817(D)$ 1,461 $ 10,608(D)
 Ashland Coal, Inc. 1,691 2,805 6,949 7,949
 Other 2,553 2,441 4,136 5,255
 $ 3,805 $ 14,063 $ 12,546 $ 23,812
 (A) Amounts have been restated to reflect the adoption of FAS 106, "Employers' Accounting for Postretirement Benefits Other Than Pensions," and FAS 109, "Accounting for Income Taxes," effective Oct. 1, 1991.
 (B) Effective Oct. 1, 1992, responsibility for Ashland Branded Marketing, Inc. was transferred to Ashland Petroleum from SuperAmerica Group. Prior year amounts have been restated for comparison.
 (C) Includes a gain of $14,864,000 on the sale of TPT, an inland waterways barge operation.
 (D) Includes a gain of $7,658,000 (Ashland's 50 percent share) from insurance proceeds resulting from a fire at an Illinois mine.
 -0- 4/23/93
 /CONTACT: Bill Hartl, investor relations, in New York, 212-421-1250; or Roger Schrum, media relations, in Ashland, 606-329-4061, both of Ashland Oil, Inc./
 (ASH)


CO: Ashland Oil, Inc. ST: Kentucky IN: OIL SU: ERN

CD -- PG002 -- 0004 04/23/93 11:32 EDT
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