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STEPAN REPORTS 1991 SALES AND EARNINGS

               STEPAN REPORTS 1991 SALES AND EARNINGS
    NORTHFIELD, Ill., Feb. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Stepan Company (AMEX: SCL)


today reported increased sales and earnings for the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 1991, and increased sales for the year, although earnings for the year were down slightly.
    Net earnings for the fourth quarter of 1991 increased 24 percent to $3,628,000, up from $2,933,000 recorded in the same quarter of  1990. Earnings per share rose to 67 cents, up from 53 cents.  Net sales for the quarter increased five percent to $100,727,000, up from $95,902,000 for the comparable quarter of 1990.
    Net earnings for the year of 1991 were $12,547,000, or $2.30 per share, down 13 percent from $14,491,000, or $2.64 per share reported in the previous year.  Net sales for the year were $414,069,000, up six percent from $389,612,000 recorded in 1990.
    "Our specialty products group was the major contributor to the improved fourth quarter earnings," said F. Quinn Stepan, chairman and president.  The improved earnings were driven by a 20 percent increase in sales volume.  Specialty products supply a variety of markets including petroleum products, flavorings, coatings and pharmaceuticals.
    Fourth quarter surfactant earnings were up slightly on a three percent increase in volume.  Earnings for the surfactant group were adversely affected by the Mexican operations which recorded a loss.
    Fourth quarter earnings from the polymers product group, which includes phthalic anhydride (PA), polyurethane systems and polyurethane polyols were down slightly.  Considerable costs incurred from a third quarter PA equipment failure, consequent temporary plant shutdown and fourth quarter operational problems, significantly lowered earnings. Polyurethane products earnings improved.
    For the year, surfactant earnings, which account for 70 percent of the company's sales, surpassed last year's record.  Domestic operations, Europe and Canada all experienced improved earnings.  In  spite of increased volume, Mexico recorded a loss, due to high maintenance expenses and reduced margins.  Earnings from polymers were down for all three product groups.  PA declined in spite of record volumes, primarily because of increased costs due to the equipment malfunction. Polyurethane systems declined because of decreased volume and polyurethane polyols declined due to decreased margins.  Specialty products remained basically flat in 1991.
    Operating expenses rose four percent; administrative expenses dropped four percent; marketing expenses rose four percent; and research and development expenses increased 14 percent.
    Due to increased outstanding debt, resulting from Stepan's capital expenditure program and acquisitions, interest expense rose 11 percent.
    "We are confident that significant benefits will be derived in 1992 from our capital investment program," said Stepan.  "We have identified a number of opportunities to achieve our goals and believe we can increase profits to shareholders in the coming year."
    Stepan Company, headquartered in Northfield, is a leading producer of basic and intermediate chemicals used in household, industrial, personal care, agricultural and energy-related products.  The stock is traded on the American and Midwest Stock Exchanges.
                  STEPAN COMPANY STATEMENT OF INCOME
                            (000's omitted)
    Periods ended         THREE MONTHS           TWELVE MONTHS
    Dec. 31          1991     1990    Percent   1991    1990    Percent
                                      Change                    Change
    Net sales      $100,727  $95,902   + 5    $414,069 $389,612  + 6
    Operating costs
      and expenses:
    Cost of sales    81,134   77,242   + 5     340,047  315,360  + 8
      operating
      expenses       12,776   12,757     -      48,672   47,007  + 4
    Interest
      expense, net    1,465    1,421   + 3       6,484    5,825  +11
    Gain on sale
      of assets         -        (31)    -         -       (874)   -
    Total            95,375   91,389   + 4     395,203  367,318  + 8
    Pre-tax income    5,352    4,513   +19      18,866   22,294  -15
    Provision for
      income taxes    1,724    1,580   + 9       6,319    7,803  -19
    Net income       $3,628   $2,933   +24     $12,547  $14,491  -13
    Net income per
      common share   $  .67   $  .53   +26     $  2.30  $  2.64  -13
    Average shares
      outstng.        5,437    5,494   - 1       5,458    5,496  - 1
    -0-                            2/20/92
    /CONTACT:  Walter J. Klein of Stepan Company, 708-446-7500/
    (SCL)  CO:  Stepan Company  ST:  Illinois  IN:  CHM  SU:  ERN AH -- NY090 -- 1131 02/20/92 17:04 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 20, 1992
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