US chemical barge giant Kirby trolling for acquisitions

12 March 2009 01:47  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US' largest inland barge operator Kirby is looking at possible acquisitions this year, as it expects to remain profitable although petrochemical shipping on the US Gulf coast may come under more pressure before the year ends, the company's CEO said on Wednesday.

"We've got plenty of capability to buy assets," Joe Pyne said at an investment conference in New York. "This is the time we grow the business - when there's more stress out there."

Kirby, traded under the symbol KEX on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $23.70/share (€18.72/share) on Wednesday, up more than 9% from Tuesday's close at $21.72.

The company operates almost 1,000 barges, with about 65% of its business along the Gulf coast, where the nation's petrochemical industry is located.

Pyne said Kirby's first quarter 2009 earnings will decline by more than 20% to $0.45-0.55/share from the comparable period in 2008.

He said the firm's transport levels, both on the Mississippi River and on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, were expected to remain below last year's levels.

($1 = €0.79)

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By: Lane Kelley
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