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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS

740 Are Laid Off by Varco

July 20, 1999|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Varco International Inc., a maker of oil rig equipment, said Monday it fired about 740 workers in the first half as the lingering effect of lower crude prices reduced demand for its products.

Varco, which is headquartered in Orange, said it fired 25% of its work force of 2,951. Most of the jobs were manufacturing-related, though some administrative positions also were cut, said Richard Kertson, a Varco spokesman.

Of the 740 workers who lost their jobs, 180 were based in Orange County, where about 560 employees remain. At its peak in August 1998, Varco had 3,200 employees worldwide, Kertson said.

He also said there may be more cuts, "but the magnitude has not been decided."

The company also said its second-quarter profit fell 43% to $11.2 million, or 17 cents a share, from $19.7 million, or 30 cents, in the year-earlier period. The results exceeded the 14-cent average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by First Call Corp. Revenue dropped 21% to $155.9 million from $197.2 million.

While oil prices have rallied since touching a 12-year low in December, worldwide drilling activity remains depressed along with demand for Varco's equipment, the company said.

Varco's stock fell 6 cents a share Monday to $10.88.

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