Lightning gives Crown $5.9 million loss in quarter

April 26, 1991|By Kim Clark

Lightning struck twice at one of Crown Central Petroleum Corp.'s Texas oil refineries last month, causing equipment problems that drained the profits of the Baltimore-based oil company.

Crown Chairman Henry A. Rosenberg told a small group of investors and board members gathered at the annual meeting yesterday that repairs of the company's Houston refinery took longer than expected because of lightning strikes on the facility, and, as a result, Crown lost $5.9 million in the first quarter of 1991.

But Mr. Rosenberg said that now that the refinery is back up, profits should rebound from the company's first operating loss in three years.

Mr. Rosenberg said he believes the company's outlook is bright because gasoline inventories are at their lowest levels in 15 years and small competitors are likely to be driven out of business by tightening environmental cleanup laws. Crown will be able to meet all the new anti-pollution requirements imposed by the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws because it has plenty of cash to make improvements, he said.

Crown plans to keep shutting low-volume gas stations in the South and buying high-volume gas stations from competitors in Virginia, he said. Crown has already shut about 100 gas stations with average annual gasoline sales of less than 30,000 gallons a year, and plans to shut more low-volume stores this year, he said.

The company expects to close on the purchase of 14 Virginia stations in the next few days, he said. The Ashland Oil stations that the company is about to buy have already achieved sales of 100,000 gallons of gasoline a year, he noted. And now that many of its competitors, including Circle K, 7-11 and other outlets are having financial difficulty, Mr. Rosenberg said he expects it will be easy for Crown to buy more outlets.

In other matters, Mr. Rosenberg said Crown supports a proposal to turn a shut-down Navy training facility in Cecil County into an automobile racetrack, but hasn't taken any action or committed funds to the project. Mr. Rosenberg said he introduced Gov. William Donald Schaefer to the idea by taking the governor to a race in Alabama in 1989.

*Three months ended 3/31/91

.. .. .. .. .. Revenue .. .. .. .. .. Net .. .. .. .Share

'91 .. .. 418,924,000 .. .. ..(5,949,000) .. .. (0.61)

'90 .. .. 458,328,000 .. .. .. .1,144,000 .. .. .0.12

% change .. .. .. -8.6 .. .. .. .. .. .. -- .. .. .. .--

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