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Owens Corning: fourth-quarter profit gain falls short

US-based Owens Corning reported a smaller than expected improvement in fourth quarter earnings as building material operating earnings slipped to US$ 85 million from a record US$ 100 million in 1998“…

US-based Owens Corning reported a smaller than expected improvement in fourth quarter earnings as building material operating earnings slipped to US$ 85 million from a record US$ 100 million in 1998“s final quarter. Chief financial officer J. Thurston Roach said the 15% decline was due to lower US roofing sales and rising PVC prices in Europe. The quarter capped “an unbelievable year of success for Owens Corning” that left annual earnings per share at US$ 4.67, Roach told analysts during a conference call, adding the company “begins the (new) year with momentum.” Noting 1999“s record annual sales and earnings, CEO Glen Hiner said “we will continue to deliver improved financial results” in 2000. The 15% decline in fourth quarter building material earnings was more than offset by a 10% increase in composites systems, the company said, noting: “Our Asian composites business has finally turned the corner after a long economic downturn, with an especially strong performance in our Kimchon, Korea, operations.” Highlights during the year were new pick-up truck beds for both Ford and General Motors and muffler systems for five Toyota models, it said. Total sales in the fourth quarter were US$ 1.27 billion, compared to US$ 1.26 billion a year earlier, while net income was US$ 61 million, or US$ 1.05 per diluted share, compared to the US$ 1.10 per share consensus projection compiled by First Call/Thomson Financial. The analysts, who had expected the company to earn US$ 4.71 per share this year, put this year“s earnings at US$ 5.22. Last year“s profits compared to earnings in 1998“s final quarter was US$ 59 million, or US$ 1.03 per share, excluding special items which left the company with a net loss of US$ 868 million, or US$ 16.16 per share.

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