Covington-based Ashland Inc. announced a quarterly loss this week, its results dragged down by a number of one-time items.
The specialty chemical company lost $263 million, or $3.38 a share, in its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Sept. 30, compared to a loss of $141 million, or $1.79 a share, in the same period in 2010.
Chief among the factors weighing down results was a $275 million non-cash charge related to a loss on pension and other benefits because of unfavorable asset returns. The charge equated to an impact of $3.51 a share.
Five other key items totaled a negative impact of $78 million, or an additional $1 a share. Those items included charges related to the acquisition of International Specialty Products and tax adjustments.
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Factoring out key items in the fourth quarter this year and last year, the company said that operating income would have risen 10 percent and that earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization would have climbed 6 percent.
Overall, sales grew 21.8 percent year over year to $1.85 billion in the quarter. Of that, $205 million in sales came from ISP, which Ashland owned for the final five weeks of the quarter following the sale's closing.
"Certainly the highlight of the September quarter and Ashland's fiscal year was the acquisition of ISP," CEO Jim O'Brien said in a statement. "With strong positions in key growth markets, including personal care and pharmaceutical, ISP is a perfect strategic fit."
The company's Consumer Markets divisions, which includes Lexington-based Valvoline, garnered $517 million in sales, up 12 percent from $462 million a year ago. Its operating income was $29 million, down from $54 million. Driving that reduced operating income was an increase in raw material costs and additional marketing spending. Ashland said Valvoline intends to implement an additional price increase by the end of 2011 to account for the increasing material costs.
For its 2011 fiscal year, the company had revenue of $6.5 billion, up from $5.74 billion in 2010. Earnings were $414 million, or $5.17 a share, up dramatically from $141 million, or $1.78 a share, in 2010.