Ethyl Stock Rises on Earnings Report


Ethyl Corp. announced thatcontinuing operationslost money during the third quarter but added that it has finished a downsizing program undertaken earlier this year and expects its performance to rebound by the end of the year.
After the earnings report was issued Friday, the price of Ethyls stock jumped from 69 cents per share to $1, before closing Tuesday at 92 cents. That was still significantly lower than its 52-week high of $2.44.

Excluding non-recurring items, the Richmond, Va., additive maker lost $2 million, or 2 cents per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30. In the third quarter of 2000, those operations netted a profit of $4 million, or 5 cents per share.

Including non-recurring items, principally $3.3 million from the sale of assets, the company earned $700,000, or 1 cent per share in the quarter. The third quarter of 2000 had total earnings of $21.6 million, or 26 cents per share, but that included $18.2 million in one-time income stemming from pension settlements.

Responding to tighter margins and a downturn in sales volumes, Ethyl suspended its stock dividend early this year and announced plans to downsize. The company has since closed facilities, cut jobs and reduced spending for sales and marketing, administrative, research and general operations – from $49.7 million in the third quarter of 2000 to $35 million for the third quarter of 2001.

At the same time, officials said they have begun to attract increased orders for unspecified products and that the benefits should appear on the year-end report. Recovering from the loss of significant volume early this year, we have made solid gains in our product lines and regions, and we expect to see earnings improvement in the fourth quarter, when new orders are delivered, President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas E. Gottwald said.

Gottwald added, however, that Ethyl is still suffering from adverse conditions in hte engine oil additive market, with oversupply and weak pricing. There are no quick fixes to these problems, he said. But our technology is sound and we will continue to serve our customers and expect to make steady gains in this market.

By the end of the year, Ethyl expects to have reduced its debt by $120 million, to approximately $310 million. Most of the remaining debt — $306 million — is due next August, but the company is working to extend the maturity into 2003.

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