WELLMAN NET SOARS IN 4TH QUARTER, YEAR

NEW YORK — Branded polyester marketer Wellman Inc. saw fourth-quarter earnings more than double from increased volume and improved margins in its recycled-plastic fiber business.
Net income for the quarter rose 136 percent, to $5.9 million, or 19 cents a diluted share, against $2.5 million, or 8 cents, a year ago. Excluding unusual items in both quarters, earnings rose 142.9 percent, to $8.5 million, or 27 cents, from $3.5 million, or 11 cents, a year ago.
Sales for the period ended Dec. 31 rose 6.6 percent, to $277.8 million from $260.6 million a year ago.
Strongest results were derived from European fibers operations and the company’s PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging resins.
However, Tom Duff, chairman and chief executive, said: “The domestic fibers business continues to be negatively impacted by low demand, primarily resulting from imports throughout our businesses, particularly energy costs.”
The Shrewsbury, N.J.-based firm said, its European fibers business saw improved results, which were partially offset by lower profitability in the domestic fibers business.
For the year, net income rose 189.7 percent, to $25.2 million, or 79 cents a diluted share, from $8.7 million, or 28 cents, a year ago. Excluding unusual items, net income was $27.8 million, compared to a loss of $11.1 million during 1999.