NEW YORK — Polyester maker Wellman Inc. warned Thursday that it expects to report break-even results at best for the fourth quarter and that it is looking to sell or otherwise dispose of three of its fiber plants.

The Shrewsbury, N.J.-based company said it is reviewing “strategic alternatives” for its partially oriented yarn plant in Fayetteville, N.C., its polyester staple plant in Marion, S.C., and its already idle staple machinery at Pearl River, Miss. The company said it plans to focus on higher-end fiber products.

“The POY business unit and the Marion plant are relatively small and do not offer sufficient potential within the new strategy to continue to operate in a business-as-usual mode,” chief executive officer Tom Duff said.

The company said it was considering “a sale or other disposition of these operations.” Company officials were not available to provide further details.

Wellman also warned it expects to take a net loss of 15 to 20 cents a share prior to a one-time gain of 15 cents a share related to an insurance claim. In the fourth quarter of 2000, the company earned $5.9 million, or 19 cents a diluted share, on sales of $277.8 million.