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Several Big Oil Firms Report Mixed Profits

October 22, 1985|From Associated Press

Mobil Corp. on Monday reported a $116-million loss for the third quarter as a result of a decision to set aside more than $500 million from its earnings for a previously announced face lift for its struggling Montgomery Ward & Co. retailing subsidiary.

Mobil, the nation's second-largest oil company after Exxon Corp., said that, without the one-time write-off, its earnings would have shot up almost 65% from a year earlier.

Elsewhere, Amoco Corp., citing falling oil prices, said its profit fell 18% in the third quarter from a year earlier. But Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. said its profit soared 150%, bolstered by a big tax break and the sale of some of its Colombian holdings.

Ashland Oil, the nation's leading independent gasoline refiner, reported that it completed its strongest fiscal year since 1980. A year earlier, Ashland had a big loss as a result of a restructuring in which it announced plans to dispose of many of its non-oil businesses.

Charge Against Earnings

Mobil, based in New York, said its third-quarter net loss contrasted with a profit of $238 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 4% to $14.4 billion from $15 billion.

The loss was caused by a $508-million charge against earnings to cover the costs of restructuring Montgomery Ward.

Mobil said in May that it wanted to transform the 113-year-old retail chain into a smaller, profitable operation that eventually could stand on its own. One of the first moves was to close its money-losing catalogue stores and related distribution centers.

Mobil has yet to say what its ultimate plans are, but it has said that Montgomery Ward could be sold or spun off into an independent company when the restructuring is completed.

Without the special charge against earnings, profit for the third quarter would have been $392 million, as higher gasoline prices in the United States and lower prices for crude oil helped improve profit margins from refining gasoline, the company said.

For the first nine months of the year, profit fell 37.5% to $615 million from $984 million a year earlier. Revenue dipped to $44.2 billion from $45 billion.

Amoco Profits Fall

Without the Montgomery Ward restructuring, however, profits would have increased 14% to $1.12 billion.

Chicago-based Amoco, the nation's fifth-largest oil company, said its profits fell to $490 million in the third quarter from $600 million a year earlier.

Revenue nudged up to $7.2 billion from $7.1 billion.

Amoco said its operating earnings from oil and natural gas production fell 28.9% in the third quarter to $353 million from $496 million, mostly because crude oil prices had declined.

Amoco also said a decline in the value of the dollar from a year ago resulted in foreign exchange losses from operations abroad, but it did not provide figures on the dollar's impact on earnings.

For the first nine months of the year, earnings fell to $1.56 billion from $1.72 billion. Revenue fell to $21.5 billion from $22 billion.

Occidental, based in Los Angeles, said third-quarter profits jumped to $381.7 million from $152.9 million a year earlier.

The improvement included a $180.9-million gain from federal income tax benefits carried forward from an earlier capital loss to offset gains this year.

Also during the third quarter, Occidental sold half of its interest in a new, rich oil field in Colombia for $1 billion to Royal Dutch-Shell Group.

Sales in the quarter fell 12.8% to $3.4 billion from $3.9 billion, reflecting a decline in oil prices.

Armand Hammer, Occidental chairman, reported widespread gains, despite a drop in oil prices.

For the first nine months, earnings rose 67% to $643.3 million from $384.5 million. Revenue fell 7% to $10.8 billion from $11.6 billion.

Ashland reported a profit of $46 million on sales of $2.2 billion in its fourth quarter that ended Sept. 30. Gains from its gasoline business led the improvement from a year earlier, when Ashland had a $241-million loss on sales of $2.3 billion.

The company, based in Ashland, Ky., said it earned $147 million in the full fiscal year, against a loss of $172 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 3.5% to $8.2 billion from $8.5 billion.

$271-Million Charge

In the final quarter of the 1984 fiscal year, Ashland took a one-time charge against earnings of $271 million for expected losses and write-offs related to the disposal of its non-oil businesses.

Without that charge, profits would have been $30 million in the final quarter of the 1984 fiscal year and $92 million for the full year.

John Hall, Ashland chairman, said the divestiture program announced last year was virtually complete.

He said the previously announced sale of Ashland's Integon insurance subsidiary to Southmark Corp. should be completed in November.

Ashland also has found buyers for the remaining units of its U.S. Filter Corp. holdings.

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