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Alon USA Records Worst Quarter to Date

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It's a tough time for refiner, marketer, and operator of over 300 convenience stores Alon USA Energy Inc., which recorded the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2007 as the worst quarter in the company's history, owing to record crude oil prices. Interestingly, however, it also saw the second financial year in its history helped by high sales of asphalt and in the C-stores segment.

Jeff Morris, the president and CEO of the company, stated that this quarter was a very challenging one and that now Alon USA is facing an additional challenge: a major fire at the company’s Big Spring, TX, refinery. The CEO also stated that the new challenges have brought a greater level of resolve shown by the company’s employees, board, and lenders.

After the year’s end a fire broke out at the company’s Big Spring refinery. Morris said that the company is working to reestablish production at the refinery. He made it clear that no major vessels, compressors, or motors would require replacement due to the fire.

On the brighter side, the company’s board of directors has approved plans for an initial public offering (IPO) for its retail and marketing businesses. The IPO is expected to be completed by the end of 2008 and will consist of the company’s branded transportation fuel marketing, which includes approximately 800 distributor owned and operated businesses as well as 307 company owned and operated stores.

Morris added that Alon USA will own a majority stake in the offering. He also said that the company believes it is doing the right thing, the business will be larger than some of the currently traded retail operations, and Alon USA is confident about the step it is taking.

The company had a net loss of $39.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared to the fourth quarter of 2006, which saw a net profit of $22 million. Net income for the year that ended December 31, 2007, was $103.9 million, compared to $157.4 million for last year. Morris stated that he was clearly disappointed with the results and that he takes much of the responsibility for them.
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