Engineering News

Ashland quarterly profit nearly triples
Tue Jan 25, 2005 09:27 AM ET

NEW YORK, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Refining and chemicals company Ashland Inc. on Tuesday said quarter earnings nearly tripled, beating Wall Street estimates, on refining and marketing strength.

Earnings for the fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 31 rose to $101 million, or $1.39 a share, from $34 million, or 49 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts' average earnings estimate was $1.07 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Chief Executive James O'Brien said results at the company's wholly-owned units were mixed and Ashland needed to address the impact of higher raw material costs.

He said such costs more than offset a 24 percent improvement in revenue in its specialty chemical unit, and its transportation construction unit was hurt as bad weather cut working days and costs rose.

Ashland said strong refining margins and falling crude oil prices created a good profit environment for it joint venture with Marathon Oil Corp. , Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC, the No. 5 U.S. refiner.

O'Brien said Ashland was still in talks over a proposed $3 billion deal to sell its stake in the venture to Marathon. The deal is up in the air after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said in December that the transaction, as then constructed, would likely create a significant tax burden for Covington, Kentucky-based Ashland.

Source: Reuters.

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