Covington-based Ashland Inc. announced fiscal second-quarter earnings Tuesday that saw profit skyrocket because of a number of one-time items that affected both this year's and last year's results.
Revenue for the quarter was $1.56 billion, up from $1.42 billion in the same period a year ago. Profit was $353 million, or $4.39 a share, up from $22 million, or 27 cents a share, last year.
Of the $4.39 a share in earnings, $3.19 was from discontinued operations, primarily related to the sale of Ashland Distribution. That $979 million deal closed March 31.
Other key items included a 49-cents-per-share boost related to taxes and the Ashland Distribution sale, a 6-cents-per-share expense related to capacity reductions, and a 9-cents-per-share expense related to paying off a loan.
The company's four divisions going forward all saw sales increases year over year in the quarter, though all but one saw their operating incomes fall.
Consumer Markets, which includes Lexington-based Valvoline, garnered $491 million in sales, up from $430 million a year ago. Its operating income was $62 million, down from $69 million. The division announced an 8 percent price increase in January, but it did not take effect until late in the quarter.
CEO James J. O'Brien called the company's results "encouraging" because volumes and sales grew by 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively, year over year.
He noted that raw-material costs increased by about $35 million.
"As we all know, commodities are pushing all-time highs," he told analysts during a morning conference call. "While this current raw-material environment presents challenges, we continue to improve our pricing practices to maintain margins under these conditions.
"For the most part, we have executed well when it comes to this area."