Armco Inc. posted a loss of $39.6 million in the first quarter of the year, largely a result of losses from a joint venture. Meanwhile, the company is still seeking a buyer for its Baltimore Specialty Steel Corp. unit.
Armco's loss equaled 47 cents a share, compared with a profit of $12.9 million, or 12 cents a share, during the same quarter a year earlier. First quarter sales of $410.5 million were down about 8 percent from $445.9 million last year.
The quarter's results include a loss of $31.6 million from Armco's investment in Armco Steel Co., a joint venture with Japan's Kawasaki Steel Co. The venture produced an equity loss of $2.1 million in the first quarter of last year.
The company does not release the results of Baltimore Specialty Steel, but the Bar, Rod and Wire Products group that includes the Baltimore operation reported an operating loss of $200,000 for the quarter, compared with an operating loss of $2.6 million a year earlier.
Significant cost-cutting at the Baltimore stainless steel plant helped it break even in the first quarter, after several quarterly losses, said Raymond E. Hein, president of Baltimore Specialty Steel and vice president of Armco.
But the outlook for the plant is still uncertain. Armco put the operation up for sale last year, then suspended the efforts when an agreement was reached for Armco to buy Cyclops Industries Inc. of Pittsburgh. That deal fell through in February and Armco put the Baltimore plant back on the block.
"We are not a part of their [Armco's] long-range strategy. We, therefore, are for sale," Hein said. Hein said some potential buyers have shown interest, although nothing is imminent.
In the meantime, cost-cutting continues, including layoffs and partial plant shutdowns. Employment is now about 775, down from nearly 900 in 1988.