A $2.5 million loss on a first-of-a-kind liquefied natural gas barge and the energy industry's continued slump dropped Morgan City-based Conrad Industries Inc.'s first-quarter profit to $119,000, or 2 cents per share.
A year earlier, the ship and barge builder turned a profit of $2.6 million, or 49 cents per share. Those results were aided by $579,000 in research and development tax credits. There were none in the first quarter of 2017.
The losses on the LNG barge mainly involve changes required by regulators, which increased costs and caused delays. Equipment costs were also higher than expected. Since 2015, Conrad has reported close to $20 million in losses on the barge. The company expects to complete the project later this year.
Despite those losses, President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny Conrad said the company has developed the resources to establish itself as a leader in LNG marine-related construction in North America.
Conrad's backlog was $183.0 million at March 31, compared to $189.9 million a year earlier.
New construction has been hurt by a soft market for energy transportation, increased pricing pressure and customer delays on large projects, he said. The impact of low oil prices continues to hamper the company's repair and conversion segment.
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