United States Steel Corp. yesterday reported a stunning profits decline of about 75 per cent in the third quarter and blamed it on strikes, steel imports and inadequate prices.
Net income slumped to $27.1 million (30 cents a share) from $112.5 million ($1.38) in the 1976 third quarter. Sales were $2.38 billion, up from $2.17 billion on about the same level of steel shipments.
U.S. Steel reported nine-month net income of $130.8 million ($1.54) against $329.8 million ($4.05) a year earlier. Sales were $7.21 billion against $6.68 billion.
Strikes, including those by coal miners and at ore operations in Minnesota, "severely impacted" results, U.S. Steel said.
Despite the sharp profit drop, the nation's largest steel maker maintained its dividened of 55 cents a share. Directors declared the dividened payable Dec. 10 to shareholders of record Nov. 4.
And Armco Steel Corp. also reported lower thrid-quarter and nine-month earnings yesterday, but the decrease was a much smaller percentage than U.S. Steel's.
Armco said it had third-quarter earnings of $31.71 million (95 cents a share) on sales of $930 million, compared with earnings of $34.3 million ($1.10) on sales of $817.3 million a year earlier.
Chairman William Verity blamed reduced nine-month earnings on last winter's shutdowns, and on strikes in the coal and iron ore industries.
Earnings for the nine months were $67.8 million ($2.11), down from $99.3 million )$3.11) a year earlier. Sales totaled $2.64 billion compared with $2.39 billion.
Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. reported third quarter losses of $4.6 million and said the decline was due to unauthorized strikes, higher energy costs and wage and benefit increases.
The nation's ninth largest steel producer's losses represented a $7.9 million difference from last year's third-quarter profits.
Wheeling-PIttsburgh's losses equalled $1.42 a common share on sales of $253.4 million in the third quarter compared with profits of $3.3 million (70 cents a share) on revenue of $249.9 million in 1976.
Nine-month losses were $20.7 million ($6.17) on sales of $726.9 million compared with profits of $6 million ($1) on sales of $737 million in the first nine months of 1976.
U.S. Steel said it has reduced its capital spending budget for the year and stepped up cost-saving measures as a result of the company's dim profit outlook.
"Inadequate earnings are at the root of the industry's problems in generating the capital necessary to further modernize its facilities and to meet mandatory environmental standards, "U.S. Steel Chairman Edgar B. Speer said.
"Those who advocate unrealistically low-priced imported steel as a benefit to the American consumer not only are mistaken but shortsighted. In the long-run, in addition to lost jobs in the economy, American steel consumers will become hostage to foreign suppliers, just as happened in the case of energy following the oil embargo in 1973," he said.
Speer said steel consumption this year is likely to be the third highest in history but imports are eating up domestic jobs and earnings. He said there was an "urgent need" for federal action to curb imports.
Consolidated Edison Co. earned $1.57 a share in the third quarter, up from $1.42 a year ago, as operating revenues rose to $830.12 million from $767.47 million. Net income was $107.91 million against $93.34 million for the nation's sixth largest utility company.
Nine-month profits were $263.99 million (3.75 a share) on operating revenues of $2.309 billion compared with $235.66 million (3.29) a year ago on operating revenues of $2.175 billion.
But the company said it anticipated a drop in earnings for the calendar year and a further decline in 1978 because of increased costs in its electric, gas and steam services not "adequately covered by recent rate [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] small decline in volume in all three services.
Unit sales were down in the nine months after adjustments for weather conditions and exclusion of sales to other utlities.
Con Ed also declared its regular 50-cent dividened on common stock, payable Dec. 15 to stockholders of record Nov. 9.
Borden, Inc., a food and chemicals company, reported higher third-quarter and nine-month results.
The firm said it had third-quarter net income of $34 million ($1.09 a share) on sales of $852.6 million compared with net income of $30.7 million (99 cents) on sales of $807.3 million a year earlier.
Nine-month net income was $98.3 million ($3.16) compared with $86.5 million ($2.79) in the same period last year. Sales were $2.6 billion compared with $2.54 billion.
Augustine R. Marusi, chairman and chief executive, said the company's European operations were "outstanding" and its Latin American and Canadian outlets turned in "highly favorable" results. He also said petrochemical operations turned in "good results" which offset a profits decline in fertilizer operations.
The Kroger Co., the nation's third largest supermarket chain, reported that earnings for the third quarter ended Oct. 8 rose 24.5 per cent on a sales gain of 11.5 per cent.
The company earned $15.9 million ($1.17 a share), up from $12.7 million (94 cents) in the same period last year. Sales totaled $2.03 billion against $1.82 billion.
James P. Herring chairman, attributed the improved results to a major investment in modernized, more efficient stores. Kroger opened 31 new stors in the third quarter and remodeled 12. "While gross margins declined during the third quarter as a result of lowered prices in the supermarket industry." Herring said, "the preparations Kroger has been making to improve retail facilities and directing our merchandising emphasis to consumer needs have enabled Kroger to cope with these competitive pressures and to continue to show progress."
Nine-month earnings were $41.8 million (3.09) on sales of $4.988 billion compared with 1976 nine-month earnings of $31.8 million ($2.36) on sales on $4.508 billion.
Zenith Radio Corp. said it lost $12.9 million in the third quarter of 1977. In the third quarter of 1976, Zenith earned a profit of $9.6 million (51 cents a share).
The write-off of an inactive color picture tube plant in Lansdale, Pa., lowered per-share earnings by 65 cents. Per-share earnings were reduced an additional 12 cents by the write-down of certain Swiss watch inventories to estimated realizable value. Earnings exclusive of these two charges amounted to 8 cents a share.
Sales for the third quarter of 1977 totaled $241 million compared with $249 million in the 1976 period. The reduction in sales volume resulted from a decrease in distributor inventories and from lower unit prices, the firm said.