Beth loses $517 million

January 30, 1991|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Evening Sun Staff

Bethlehem Steel Corp., which operates a the Sparrows Point steel mill in Baltimore County, today announced a $517 million loss, or $6.91 per share, as the result of a $550 million charge for the proposed restructuring of its structural and rail products operation in Bethlehem and Steelton, Pa.

In comparison, the company had a net income of $50 million, or 57 cents a share, for the 1989 fourth quarter. The company had sales of $1.2 billion for the fourth quarter, a 5 percent increase from the 1989 fourth quarter when sales were $1.15 billion.

Without the restructuring charge, net income in the fourth quarter would have been $33 million.

Aside from the one-time charge, the lower earnings stemmed from lower steel prices and shipments and higher operating costs, particularly at the Sparrows Point plant in connection with various modernization and repair projects, said Bethlehem Chairman Walter F. Williams.

The company had increased costs of about $100 million at Sparrows Point because of the modernization of the hot strip and tin mills, accelerated coke oven repairs and relining of a blast furnace. Bethlehem expects additional costs for modernization at Sparrows Point to continue this year, though the total amount will be less than during 1990, the company said in its quarterly report.

Operations of the Baltimore Marine division, which is based at the Sparrows Point shipyard, continued to improve as the company continues with restructuring the operation, the report said.

Bethehem would have posted a profit for the year without the restructuring charge, which put the company in the red. The loss for the year was $464 million, or $6.45 a share, compared to a net income of $245.7 million, or $2.86 a share, for 1989.

Last week Bethlehem announced that it will study a possible joint venture with British Steel PLC that could cost 2,000 jobs, mainly at the company's headquarter's city of Bethlehem, Pa.

The action will not affect the Sparrows Point plant, which has a work force of 6,713 people and produces plate and sheet steel, the company said.

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