Kirby Corporation – which operates 774 inland tank barges, with 14.0 million barrels of capacity, and 229 towing vessels -- reported net earnings for the 2000 first quarter of $6,067,000, or $.25 per share. Net earnings for the 1999 first quarter were $4,001,000, or $.20 per share. The 2000 first quarter results include the acquisition in October 1999 of Hollywood Marine, Inc., accounted for under the purchase method of accounting.
Movements in each of Kirby's inland tank barge markets were generally at, or above, expected levels. Refined products movements to the Midwest were unseasonably strong, the result of gasoline inventory anomalies in the Midwest. Fertilizer movements were also stronger than usual during the first quarter. The 2000 first quarter was impacted by weather, but not as much as the 1999 first quarter. Low water conditions existed on the Mississippi, Ohio and Illinois Rivers through mid-February resulting in longer transit times and restricted drafts for upriver movements. The marine transportation operating margin was 14% for the 2000 first quarter compared with 12% for the 1999 first quarter.
Kirby's diesel engine services segment experienced an improvement in business activity from the Gulf Coast drilling and offshore supply vessel markets and a stronger Midwest river market and nuclear market when compared with the 1999 fourth quarter. The operating margin for the diesel engine services segment was 10.7% for the 2000 first quarter compared with 10.2% for the 1999 first quarter.
Joe Pyne, Kirby's President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "Our marine transportation business
was good, including the refined products and fertilizer markets, which are historically slow during the first quarter. The integration of Kirby and Hollywood remains our number one priority. We have accomplished much in a very short period of time, but we still have some fine-tuning to do. We expect to complete the integration of our shore staff into our corporate office building early next month and will then turn our focus on making sure we capture the operating synergies allowed by the merger. During the 2000 first quarter, we also sold three inland towing vessels and scrapped six single skin inland tank barges for a small net gain. As we proceed with the integration, we will continue to review our horsepower requirements and sell excess horsepower from our system when we can."