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Horsehead posts 4th straight loss

Keywords: Tags  Horsehead Holding, zinc, Jim Hensler, earnings results, Rutherford County plant, Suzy Waite

NEW YORK — Horsehead Holding Corp. reported its fourth consecutive net loss Feb. 20, which it attributed to low zinc prices, asset write-off charges connected with the pending closure of its Monaca, Pa., zinc facility, and hedge-protection costs related to its soon-to-open zinc plant in Rutherford County, N.C.

The Pittsburgh-based producer’s $11.2-million net loss in the quarter narrowed from a net loss of $12.7 million in the same 2011 period. Meanwhile, sales for the period rose 6.1 percent to $106.4 million.

Horsehead’s full-year net loss of $30.4 million stood in contrast to net income of $21.5 million in 2011 on sales that fell 3.4 percent to $435.7 million from $451.2 million.

London Metal Exchange zinc prices averaged 88 cents per pound in the fourth quarter, up from 86 cents per pound in the same 2011 period.

"I am not satisfied with the bottom-line financial results," Jim Hensler, president and chief executive officer, told analysts during an earnings conference call.

Still, Hensler pointed to some year-on-year improvement, including a 23-percent increase in zinc dust recycling despite lower steel output, a 5-percent uptick in smelter production and a 10-percent rise in zinc shipments.

Horsehead is in the final stages of constructing its new zinc plant in Rutherford County, which will coincide with the closure of its Monaca facility. Horsehead expects to begin producing zinc at Rutherford later this year, and is now hiring workers for the facility.

The company has also begun Phase II of its expansion at its Brampton, Ontario, plant, which involves adding a seventh muffle furnace.

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