W.R. Grace & Co., a Columbia maker of chemicals and construction materials, said it lost $2.3 million (4 cents per share) on revenue of $450.6 million in the first quarter, compared with a profit of $12.4 million (19 cents) on revenue of $419 million in the year-earlier period.
The company said its earnings were hurt by the weak U.S. commercial construction market as well as higher costs for manufacturing and petroleum-based raw materials. The quarter also included higher environmental litigation costs and increased pension costs. The company's Chapter 11-related expenses totaled $2.7 million in the quarter. Grace filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001 to protect the company from asbestos-liability litigation.
* Choice Hotels International Inc. of Silver Spring said it earned $9.7 million (26 cents per share) in the first quarter, compared with net income of $8.6 million (20 cents) during the same period a year earlier.
Revenue for the quarter was up 8 percent, to $81.6 million. Much of Choice's revenue comes from fees it collects on the franchisees of its brands, which include the Comfort, Quality, Clarion, Sleep Inn and Econo Lodge brands. Revenue per available room, a measure of hotel profitability, fell to $25.78 from $26.16 in the first quarter of 2002.
* Allied Capital Corp., a Washington-based investment firm, reported income of $19.9 million (18 cents per share) in the first three months of this year, down sharply from the same quarter last year, when the company earned $56 million (55 cents). Earnings were pushed lower by $71.1 million in unrealized investment losses. Net investment income and realized gains at Allied Capital, the primary sources of the company's dividend payments, were $91 million, and the company said it will pay its regular quarterly dividend of 57 cents per share. The total value of Allied Capital's investment portfolio fell 4.5 percent in the year that ended March 31, to $2.38 billion.
* Capital Automotive REIT said said net income in the first quarter was $11.9 million (41 cents per share) on revenue of $40.5 million, compared with net income of $10.9 million (39 cents) on revenue of $32.3 million in the first quarter of 2001. The McLean-based owner of car-dealership real estate said it has bought $25.5 million in property so far this year. The company's funds from operations, a measure of real estate company performance, grew to $22.9 million in the quarter, from $20.1 million a year earlier.