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Precede BETHLEHEM, Pa. Two Steelmakers Report Third-Quarter Losses, Profits at Third Tumble

October 31, 1991

Undated (AP) _ Bethlehem Steel Corp. said Wednesday that falling steel prices and rising operating costs contributed to a third-quarter loss of $61 million, while Armco Inc. posted a $26.9 million loss.

A third steelmaker, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp., reported profits plummeted 98 percent from last year’s period, when the company was under bankruptcy protection from creditors. Bethlehem Steel Corp.

Bethlehem’s loss, equal to 88 cents per share, compared with profits of $10 million or 5 cents per share in the third quarter of 1990.

The company, based in Bethlehem, Pa., also blamed part of the loss on the costs of modernizing a hot strip mill at its Sparrows Point plant in Baltimore and relining its blast furnace at its Burns Harbor plant in Indiana.

The projects cost about $50 million for the quarter and $100 million for the year so far, the company said.

Net sales in the quarter fell to $1.12 billion from $1.21 billion.

Basic steel operations lost $48 million in the quarter, compared with a loss of $27 million in the year-ago period.

Chairman Walter F. Williams said in a statement that he expects a loss in the fourth quarter as well.

″While the basics for moderate recovery appear to be in place, we are concerned about the potential for a stall that could occur if there is no further easing of credit and improvement in consumer and business confidence,″ Williams said.

For the first nine months of 1991, the company had a net loss of $128.9 million or $1.94 per share, compared with net income of $53.3 million or 46 cents per share in the 1990 period.

Net sales declined to $3.29 billion from $3.7 billion. Armco Inc.

The Parsippany, N.J.-based steelmaker said its results suffered from a loss from a joint venture with Kawasaki Steel Corp. and by the continued soft economy.

Armco’s third-quarter loss came to 33 cents per share, compared to a loss of $8.8 million, or 12 cents a share, in the previous year’s period.

Sales fell to $387.6 million from $418.1 million.

Armco said it lost $31.9 million from its flat-rolled carbon steel joint venture with Kawasaki, compared with a loss of $5.7 million for the year- earlier period.

″Continuing softness in the economy concerns us as we look through the first half of next year,″ Robert L. Purdum, Armco’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. ″The near-term outlook for most of Armco’s major markets remains weak.″

For the first nine months of 1991, Armco said it lost $95 million, or $1.14 per share, on sales of $1.19 billion. That compared with a loss of $81.0 million, or 98 cents a share, on sales of $1.32 billion for the year-earlier period. Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp.

The Wheeling, W.Va.-based steel maker reported third-quarter profits of $392,000, or 2 cents per share, on revenue of $244.7 million.

That was down from the third quarter of 1990, when the company reported profits of $22.4 million on revenue of $286.6 million.

The company said comparisons with last year’s per-share earnings were irrelevant because the company issued new shares as part of its reorganization plan. Wheeling-Pitt emerged from bankruptcy protection early this year.

Company officials said the results reflected fewer steel shipments, lower steel prices and less profitable products.

″Business conditions for the fourth quarter still appear to be tough,″ Wheeling-Pitt Chairman Robin Chenery said in a statement.

Year-to-date profits fell 95 percent to $3.9 million, or 20 cents a share, from the $83.8 million reported during the year-earlier period.

Sales were $722.3 million, down from $830.5 million.

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