Rock of Ages reports modest 4Q gains

Rock of Ages Corporation reported being on slightly more solid ground for the fourth quarter compared to a year ago, but total year earnings continued to slip as the Concord-based granite quarrier and monument manufacturer chips away at losses it says are due to China’s booming business in the stone and concrete industry.

Calling 2005 a “transition year,” company officials reported revenues for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, 2005, up $803,000, or about 3 percent, with $23.7 million, up from $22.9 million the fourth quarter of 2004.

Quarrying, manufacturing and retail revenues in the fourth quarter remained essentially flat as Rock of Ages struggled against Chinese shipments to customers, showing minor losses and mild gains from the same quarter a year ago.

Throughout 2005, the company worked to streamline operations, closing or selling 10 retail stores, reducing employees and beefing up its marketing and branding campaigns.

Total revenue for 2005 was $84 million, a loss of nearly 3 percent, from 2004 revenue of $86.6 million. Net losses significantly deepened for 2005 with $16 million, or $2.18 per share, compared to net losses in 2004 of $3.2 million, or 44 cents per share.

The company said it will continue to tighten its belt into 2006. “The company may not pay dividends without the prior consent of its lenders. The company’s board of directors did not consider a dividend for the first quarter of 2006 at its recent regularly scheduled quarterly meeting in February and is not expected to do so until the company returns to levels of profitability and cash flow sufficient to support the payment of dividends,” the firm said in a statement.

Cash and cash equivalents on hand as of Dec. 31, 2005, were $2.8 million and stockholders’ equity was $41.5 million or $5.61 per outstanding share. — CINDY KIBBE

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