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Bethlehem Steel Sells Two Units, Closes Shipyard

Heather Landy Bloomberg News

Bethlehem Steel Corp. agreed to sell its BethForge and Centec Roll units to closely held Park Corp. and close its shipyard, refocusing the company on its main business, steel production.

Bethlehem said in October that it would sell or shut down the three units, which generate less than 10 percent of its $4.68 billion annual revenue, to concentrate on steel production. Terms of the sale to Cleveland-based Park weren’t disclosed.

The steelmaker decided to close its BethShip Inc. ship repair yard in Sparrows Point, Maryland, after failing to reach an agreement with an investor group led by Baltimore Orioles baseball team owner Peter Angelos.

“It’s good to get the uncertainty out of the way,” said Charles Bradford, an analyst at Smith Barney Inc. “There aren’t a lot of buyers out there for these things.” Bethlehem shares closed unchanged at $11.25. In January, Bethlehem reported a fourth-quarter charge of $370 million related to the restructuring. The company doesn’t expect to record additional charges related to the sale or closing of the units, spokesman Jon Little said.

In its second-quarter earnings report this week, the company said second-quarter profit from operations rose 77 percent to $47 million, or 32 cents a share, from the year-earlier period. The three units posted an operating loss of $10.1 million. BethForge, a 450-employee maker of forged products for the metalworking, electrical power and nuclear industries, will merge with Park’s Lehigh Forge Corp. That unit operates several factories that supplies metal parts to the automotive, steel, petrochemical and other heavy industries. Centec Roll, a 125-employee maker of cast iron rolls for the metalworking industry, will become part of Park’s CR Acquisition business.

The steelmaker said both Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based units will buy steel from its Pennsylvania Steel Technologies Inc. plant, also in Bethlehem.

The sale won’t be final until Park reaches a new labor agreement with the steelworkers union, Bethlehem said.

BethShip at one point employed about 900 workers. The company last year said it would close the yard and fire the workers if it couldn’t sell the unit. About 100 employees will remain at the site to complete the shutdown, Bethlehem.

In March, the steelmaker shut down its Bethlehem Structural Products business after failing to find a buyer. Analysts estimate that the unit, which made steel beams for the construction industry and employed 900 workers, lost $50 million to $100 million a year.

Some of the stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Friday on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market:

NYSE

Donna Karan International, down 2-1/16 at 11-15/16

The struggling fashion house’s president and chief operating officer, Stephen L. Ruzow, resigned. Ruzow’s departure follows Monday’s appointment of John Idol, an executive from rival Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., as chief executive. Donna Karan also reported a second-quarter loss of $14.7 million on Thursday.

Kenneth Cole Productions, down 2-1/4 at 121/2

The designer of shoes, handbags and apparel posted dissappointing profits.

NASDAQ

Nutrition for Life, down 1-3/16 at 6-7/8

The nutrition supplement company reported a 90.5 percent drop in quarterly profits.

Interactive Group, up 2-1/2 at 10

DataWorks, up 1-1/4 at 13-1/8

Interactive Group agreed Thursday to be acquired by DataWorks for $57 million in stock. DataWorks, which supplies software to midsize manufacturers, is to swap 0.805 share of its stock for each sahre of Interactive, which sells business information systems. Both companies are based in San Diego.

Auspex Systems, down 1-3/16 at 9-13/16

The software and computer services company, based in Santa Clara, Calif., reported a bigger-than-expected loss for its foruth quarter ended June 30.

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