Calumet reviewing assets after huge quarterly loss

Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners reported a quarterly loss of $67.7 million Thursday morning as revenue took a nosedive.

Calumet also said it might divest some of its assets, including a $430 million refinery that opened a year ago in western North Dakota.

The Dakota Prairie Refinery at Dickinson lost $7.2 million in the first three months of the year, due in part to low demand for diesel fuel, according to North Dakota-based co-owner MDU Resources Group Inc.

MDU Resources plan to operate the refinery at only 75 percent capacity due to continued losses tied to the slumping oil industry.

Construction on the refinery began in March 2013, and the plant began selling fuel in May 2015.

The refinery can process up to 20,000 barrels of western North Dakota oil each day into diesel fuel and other products. A barrel is 42 gallons.

"We are disappointed with market conditions that continue to challenge our refinery investment," MDU Resources President and CEO David Goodin said in the company's first quarter earnings report.

Calumet's quarterly loss of $67.7 million, or 87 cents per share, compared with a profit of $23.8 million, or 27 cents per share, in the same period of 2015.

First-quarter revenue dropped a whopping 29 percent, from $1 billion a year ago to $713 million this year.

"During the first quarter 2016, continued stability in our core specialty products segment was more than offset by a material year-over-year decline in our fuel products segment gross profit, due mainly to weaker refining economics in the regional markets we serve, resulting in a consolidated net loss in the period," Calumet CEO Tim Go said in a written statement.

Calumet shares were up 14 cents Thursday morning, to $4.14 each, after the announcement. The stock sank dramatically last month after the company suspended its annual dividend and took on new debt. It also warned investors that it expected a big loss in the first quarter.

Calumet, which owns refineries in 10 states across the country, has been hit hard by the collapse in oil prices. Its shares have fallen almost 80 percent since the beginning of the year.

Go, who became CEO Jan. 1, has been trying to win back investor confidence after prior management went on an acquisition and expansion spree that ratcheted up debt and heightened the company’s volatility.

"We are committed to owning and operating a portfolio of assets and product lines that carry sustainable competitive advantages," Go said Thursday. "We believe every asset in our portfolio must be financially self-reliant to remain part of this long-term portfolio. To that end, we have initiated a comprehensive review of our existing assets that will clearly identify the long-term opportunities, risks and anticipated returns associated with each of our assets, a process which will assist our leadership team in high-grading the portfolio to achieve consistent, profitable growth."

Calumet and MDU officials had expected to run the North Dakota plant at 90 percent capacity, or about 18,000 barrels per day, but it currently is processing only about 15,500 barrels per day, according to The Bismarck Tribune.

MDU Resources said in its earnings report that the plant is "operating satisfactorily" but that officials are focusing "on operational improvements and cost-cutting measures" to improve profitability.

MDU Resources also said it is "assessing various options with respect to its ownership interest in the refinery."


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