Crown ends quarterly losses with a $10.9 million profit For full year, however, $2.8 million loss shown

February 28, 1997|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

Crown Central Petroleum Corp. yesterday said higher refinery prices and lower costs boosted fourth-quarter profits to $10.9 million -- up from a year-ago loss of $67.8 million.

With its earnings report, the Baltimore-based company snapped a string of four quarters in which its results had declined from the year-earlier period. In 1996, Crown reported losses in the first and third quarters.

"Fourth-quarter results are considerably improved by any measure," said Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., Crown chairman. He said he was "particularly pleased" by Crown's performance in its Pasadena, Texas, refinery despite a year-old lockout.

The lockout affecting about 250 members of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers union started Feb. 5, 1996, when talks broke down over a company proposal to save Crown $2.5 million a year in labor costs.

Crown is operating the refinery with a work force of about 165, which includes transferred Crown employees and temporary "contractual" workers, said Crown spokesman Joseph M. Coale.

For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, Crown reported earnings per share of $1.12, compared with a loss of $6.99 for the year-earlier period. Sales for the quarter were $435 million, up 21 percent from $359 million.

For the year, Crown reported a net loss of $2.8 million, or 28 cents a share, on sales of $1.64 billion. For 1995, the company had reported a loss of $70.6 million, or $7.28 a share, on revenues of $1.45 billion.

The company said the performance of its Pasadena refinery improved partially because of the company's agreement with Statoil North America Inc.

Under the agreement, the Crown refinery processes 20,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Statoil. Crown also provides refined products to Statoil. The arrangement reduced inventories, improved cash flow and boosted prices, the company said.

Crown's Pasadena refinery also benefited from higher prices for distillates such as home heating oil and jet fuel. The company's Tyler, Texas, refinery had strong wholesale product margins.

Both of Crown's Texas refineries benefited from "lower maintenance and manpower costs," which resulted from the lockout and from the company's continuing efforts to cut costs, Coale said.

The company's strong refining and wholesale results were partially offset by weaker results in Crown's 343 gasoline and convenience stores. The company sold about the same amount of gasoline, but made less per gallon. Average margins per gallon were 16 percent lower in the fourth quarter of 1996 than in the comparable period of 1995, the company said.

Coale said an AFL-CIO boycott of Crown, which was launched in late November, had little effect on Crown stations. He said the amount of gasoline sold in Maryland during the fourth quarter was 4.7 percent more than in the year-earlier quarter.

Pub Date: 2/28/97

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