Originally created 03/07/03

News signals revival of Washington Group



Washington Group International Inc. had two financial milestones to celebrate Thursday.

The company's common stock began trading on the Nasdaq market, marking its return to an exchange listing, and a positive fourth-quarter earnings announcement capped a year of financial recovery after a troubled 2001.

Idaho-based Washington Group is the parent company of Westinghouse Savannah River Co., the contractor that runs Savannah River Site for the Department of Energy.

With $3.7 billion in revenue and $141.1 million in operating income, last year's performance was better than expected. Revenue for the fourth quarter was $840.4 million, also beating expectations.

The stock listing is significant because the company lost its spot on the New York Stock Exchange in May 2001, the same month it filed for bankruptcy protection.

Washington Group blamed its financial troubles on poor disclosure from Raytheon Co., from which it acquired the liability-stricken subsidiary Raytheon Engineers & Contractors.

Neither company admitted blame in the legal dispute. The case was settled out of court, Washington Group officials said, to allow the company to emerge from bankruptcy more quickly.

Last year's turnaround began in the first quarter, on the heels of the company's relatively quick 10-month financial reorganization.

"Most bankruptcies end up with companies being broken into little pieces and scattered to the winds," company spokesman Jack Herrmann said.

The company had no outstanding debt at the end of the year and $171.2 million cash in hand.

President and CEO Stephen G. Hanks called the results "a powerful demonstration of the competency and latent talent of our people."

Washington Group employs about 30,000 people in more than 40 states and more than 30 countries.

A conference call for investors is slated for this morning.

Washington Group's Nasdaq ticker symbol is WGII.

"We had more trades in the first half-hour this morning than most other days," on the NYSE, Mr. Herrmann said Thursday afternoon.

Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 279-6895 or eric.williamson@augustachronicle.com.