SUGAR LAND, Texas (AP) — Imperial Sugar Co. said Friday that its fiscal first quarter profit more than doubled on an insurance settlement over the deadly 2008 explosion at a plant in Georgia.
The company would have lost money without the benefit of one-time items, and the shares fell $1.33, or 8 percent, to $15.28 in midday trading.
Imperial Sugar said raw sugar prices continued to rise, depressing profit margins on refined white sugar, and it is pressing the Agriculture Department to raise quotas on raw sugar imports before April 1.
Imperial Sugar is a major processor and marketer of refined sugar to food manufacturers, grocers and foodservice distributors. Its brands include Imperial, Dixie Crystals and Holly.
The company said it earned $178.1 million, or $14.84 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $64,000, or a penny per share, a year earlier.
The latest results included pretax gains of $278.5 million from settlement of insurance claims related to the February 2008 explosion at the Port Wentworth refinery that killed 14 workers and injured dozens more, and net gains from sugar-price hedging contracts.
Without those items, the company would have lost $6.5 million, or 55 cents per share.
Revenue rose to $173.8 million from $108.6 million.
CEO John Sheptor said the claims settlement was a milestone in the company's recovery from the Port Wentworth explosion. The company has been rebuilding the Georgia plant and expects to return to normal operations in the current quarter.