Saturday, February 7, 2004

Roto- Rooter losses narrow


Earnings

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Roto-Rooter Inc., reported a smaller fourth-quarter loss than a year ago despite higher Yellow Pages advertising expenses.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, the former Chemed Corp. reported a net loss of $13.2 million, or $1.33 a share, compared with a net loss of $19.9 million, or $2.02 a share, a year ago.

The latest quarter included an after-tax non-cash asset impairment charge of $14.4 million, or $1.44 a share, for its Service America division. The year-ago period included charges totaling $21.1 million, or $2.14 a share.

Roto-Rooter, which plans to acquire the 63 percent of hospice-care provider Vitas Healthcare it doesn't already own, said closely-held Vitas had revenues in the December quarter of $121 million versus $100 million a year ago.

Roto-Rooter said fourth-quarter revenues from continuing operations slipped 2 percent to $308.9 million, mainly because of a $12.4 million decline in Service America revenues. The company said costs were impacted by higher Yellow Pages advertising costs, typically expensed in the fourth quarter.

For the year, Roto-Rooter reported a wider loss of $3.4 million, or 35 cents a share, compared with a loss of $2.6 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago. The company said higher costs, including creation of centralized customer service and dispatch functions, reduced net income from plumbing and drain cleaning services 33 percent last year to $6.5 million. Roto-Rooter's shares, which have risen 40 percent since the announcement of the Vitas acquisition, rose $2 Friday, closing at $64.50.

Also:

• Think3 Inc., the fast-growing supplier of data management and design services to manufacturers, said its 2003 revenues rose 80 percent to $35.2 million.

The closely held company, which moved its headquarters from California to downtown Cincinnati last fall, now employs 15 here. This week, Think3 signed a two-year license for its industrial design software with GE Medical Systems.

E-mail mboyer@enquirer.com




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