Barge Operator Kirby Profit Slides 12 Percent

Barge Operator Kirby Profit Slides 12 Percent

Barge operator Kirby earned $24.9 million in the first quarter, a slide of 12 percent from a year earlier as generally low demand affected volume and pricing in the transportation and diesel engine service sectors.

Consolidated revenue for the two divisions was $268.3 million in the first quarter, compared with $277.7 million in the same period of 2009.

Kirby faced lower demand as the recession kicked in by reducing staff. The company took a $4 million charge in the first quarter of 2009 for shore staff reductions and another $4.1 million charge in 2010.

The recession’s generally low demand in the marine transportation sector depressed prices in the industry. But Kirby bolstered its volume through petrochemical customers, whose production increased, and through opportunities presented by supply chain disruptions caused by plant turnarounds and unscheduled plant maintenance.

"Our 2010 first quarter results reflected higher business levels in our marine transportation segment when compared with the majority of 2009. While we do believe that the higher demand and resulting higher equipment utilization was the result of improved petrochemical production, the improvement was also driven by plant outages. During the month of April, the improved demand has continued; however, time will tell if this improvement is sustainable. Our diesel engine services segment experienced seasonal improvement in its medium-speed marine market, along with a continued stable power generation market,” said Joe Pyne, Kirby's chief executive officer.

Contact Thomas L. Gallagher at tgallagher@joc.com.