Blaming "Precipious deterioration" of the smoke detector business Universal Security Instruments of Owings Mills reported a 5 percent decline in sales for its fourth quarter ended March 31 and a $105,000 net loss.

Universal Security earned $401,000 during the same quarter a year earlier, when sales were 3.3 million compared with this year's $3.1 million. On a per share basis, the company went from a 25-cent profit to a 7-cent loss.

The fourth-quarter loss cut Universal Security's earnings for the year to $618,000, 56 percent below the $1.4 million earned the previous year. Sales increased 6 percent from $11.2 million to $11.9 million.

The company, a major producer of smoke detectors, said it is sharply reducing its inventory of 12-volt detectors by promoting sales at substantially lower prices. The only alternative would be liquidating the inventory later at even lower prices, the firm said.

A new 9-volt smoke detector should be tested and ready for marketing by fall, but "it is not anticipated that the 9 volt smoke detector will be sold at substantial profit margins."

Acknowledging it "does not anticipate a significant improvement in sales or earnings over the near term," Universal Security said it is developing new products in hope they will contribute to future success.

Hazelton Laboratories Corp. of Vienna reported its profits for the third quarter increased 50 percent from $203,000 to $304,000, while total revenues grew 21 percent from $6.1 million to $7.4 million.

On a per-share basis, Hazelton said earnings by 25 percent rose from 12 cents diluted to 15 cents because a recent stock offering increased the number of outstanding shares by about 15 percent.

The company said all three of its operating divisions contributed to the sales and profit gains during the three-months ended March 31. The largest subsidiary, Hazleton Laboratories America, posted a 22 percent gain in revenues and a 37 percent increase in operating income.

For the first nine months of its fiscal year, Hazelton reported net income of $890,000 (49 cents) up 33 percent from last year's $688,000 (41 cents) an revenues of $21.8 million, up 22 percent, from $17.8 million.

American Health Services Inc. reported its second-quarter profits more than tripled, pushing up earnings for the first half of the year to $422,000 (50 cents a share) from $147,000 (17 cents).

Revenues increased from $9.5 million to $10.2 million for the Washington firm, which owns and operates hospitals and nursing homes.

Third-quarter net income increased from $93,000 (11 cents) to $313,000 (37 cents) as revenues grew from $4.8 million to $5.3 million.

Inter Technology/Scholar Corp. of Warrenton reported that a $100,000 third-quarter loss swelled its deficit for the year to $722,000 (40 cents a share).

ITC/Solar's revenues fell to $1.15 million from $1.3 million the previous year, when the company lost a total of $13,000 (11 cents).

President George Szego said the loss rate slowed during the fourth quarter, but predicted the company's losses will continue until mid-summer. Szego blamed most of the loss on the start-up of production of solar collectors. Those losses are expected to continue but the company's research and services business should be profitable, he said.

The company is seeking a Small Business Administration guarantee for $500,000 in loans from local banks to provide working capital and reduce debt, he added.

Pubco Corp. of Glenn Dale, the business publishing company that owns Merkle Press, reported a 65 percent increase in earnings for the first quarter, from $60,000 (2 cents a share to $100,000 (3 cents).

Sales for the three months through March 31 increased from $11.1 million to $12.6 million, including $118,000 in added sales from acquisition of Markle Computer Systems and Mailomatic. The company said a newly formed subsidiary, Pubco Marketing, has opened a New York office to boost sales there.

Washington Homes Inc., an Oxon Hill home building company, reported that profits for the quarter ended April 30 fell to $42,000 (3 cents a share from $207,000 (16 cents) a year earlier. Sales were off from $6.5 million to $5.9 million.

For the first nine months of the year, Washington Homes posted a loss of $44,000 (4 cents) compared with earnings of just over $1 million (81 cents) the previous year. Sales were down to $21.4 million from $24.2 million.

MCD Holdings Inc., a Seabrook community developement firm, reported earnings for the first half in its year increased to $324,000 (8 cents a share from $307,000 (7 cents). Revenues were up from $9.8 million to $12 million.