Tenneco Profit Off 11.9% in '84; Weak Oil Prices Cited

Tenneco Inc., a diversified energy company, said that profits fell 11.9% and 46.1% for the year and fourth quarter, respectively, reflecting what it said were depressed conditions in petroleum refining, petrochemicals and the agricultural and construction equipment industries.

Tenneco, based in Houston, is a leading energy and natural gas pipeline company that also has interests in shipbuilding, insurance, paper products and automotive equipment. It also owns JI Case Co., a manufacturer of agricultural and construction equipment, which acquired International Harvester Co.'s troubled farm-equipment business last month.

For all of 1984, profit slipped to $631 million from $716 million in 1983. Revenue rose 3.5% to $14.9 billion from $14.4 billion.

In the fourth quarter of 1984, earnings fell to $130 million from $241 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue of $3.8 billion was virtually unchanged.

Earnings were reduced by a $95-million pretax write-down for current and planned closings of certain petrochemical operations, "which were necessitated by depressed market conditions," Tenneco said.

"Despite the difficulties of operating in a soft energy market, a number of energy division performances surpassed our expectations," said James Ketelsen, Tenneco's chairman. "For the seventh consecutive year, we have successfully replaced our production of oil and gas with new reserves."

Ketelsen said continued depressed markets for refined products reduced profit margins in oil processing and sales.

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