Severe winter weather and the energy shortage cramped the major steel makers' earnings and revenues for the first three months of this year, contributing to a $50 million drop in U.S. Steel Corp.'s first quarter profits, to sharp losses for Bethlehem and Wheeling-Pittsburg Corp. and to a decline for Washington Steel Corp.
U.S. Steel Corp., the nation's largest steel producer, reported first quarter profits yesterday of $27.4 million (33 cents per share) on revenues of $2.26 million, compared with first quarter 1976 income of $97.7 million ($1.20 per share) on revenues of $2.11 million.
Although many of U.S. Steel's businesses are normally seasonally depressed in the first quarter, chairman Edgar B. Speer said the effects of the cold winter and the energy shortage significantly affected nearly all operations, particularly in January and February.
Bethlehem Steel Corp., nation's second largest steel maker, reported a $25.2 million first quarter loss (58 cents a share) compared with a $28.4 million (65 cents a share) profit in the first quarter of 1976.
Bethlehem said revenues declined slightly from $1.288 billion a year ago to $1.285 billion in this year's first quarter.
Chairman Lewis W. Foy said in addition to the cold weather, other factors affecting income were higher labor and raw material costs, a coal mine fire and "the lack of appropriate price relief to improve profits margins and by an increase in imports of foreign steel."
Foy told shareholders at the annual meeting in Wilmington, Del., yesterday that Bethlehem's business "shows some signs of improvement and shipments for the year are expected to be up over 1976."
Wheeling-Pittsburg Steel Corp. announced a first-quarter loss of $18.4 million, blaming cold weather, rising costs and low steel prices for the setback.
Washington Steel Corp. reported second quarter earnings of $532,889 (37 cent a share) on net sales of $23.54 million, compared with earnings of $1.13 million (80 cents a share) on sales of $20.43 million for the corresponding 1976 period.