Imperial Sugar results remain sluggish

by Eric Schroeder
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SUGAR LAND, TEXAS — Imperial Sugar Co. posted net income of $64,000 in the first quarter ended Dec. 31, equal to 1c per share on the common stock, down sharply from $12,263,000, or $1.06 per share, in the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter were $108,648,000, down 50% from $215,505,000 during the same quarter of the previous year.

The most recent quarterly results included a pre-tax charge of $3.3 million related to an explosion at the company’s Port Wentworth, Ga., refinery in February 2008, as well as a gain on litigation settlement of $16.1 million.

"Understandably, financial results continue to be affected by the Port Wentworth outage," said John Sheptor, president and chief executive officer. "However, construction at the Port Wentworth site is making excellent progress as we have begun erecting steel and major equipment is on order. After reviewing equipment delivery and construction schedules, we now anticipate bulk sugar production will begin in the spring of 2009 with the complete restoration of packaging capabilities by fall of 2009. We will continue managing our business to best maximize our resources until all insurance recoveries are received and full manufacturing is restored."

Mr. Sheptor also noted that the company is making progress on several other initiatives as well. He said discussions with the Louisiana sugar growers and Cargill to become an equity partner in the Louisiana Sugar Refining joint venture "are progressing with due diligence under way." In addition, the company’s Comercializadora Santos Imperial joint venture in Mexico is in full swing with a growing customer base, he said.

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