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SEVENSON'S PROFIT DECLINES 18% IN FOURTH QUARTER

Sevenson Environmental Services' fourth-quarter profits tumbled by 18 percent as the Niagara Falls hazardous waste cleanup firm's sales slid by 5 percent.

The company also said Thursday it won a contract worth up to $13 million for cleanup work at a Superfund site in Manville, N.J., prompting Sevenson president Michael A. Elia to predict that the prospects appear good for bringing in new business this year, despite the weakening economy.

Sevenson's profits fell to $2.56 million, or 24 cents per share, from $3.13 million, or 30 cents per share, a year ago. Sales fell 5 percent to $36.4 million from $38.5 million.

The drop in profits broke a 2 1/2 -year streak of higher quarterly earnings and was the second straight quarter that the company's revenues have declined.

While Elia described the $107 million in new business that Sevenson booked last year as a good showing, that was less than the record $148 million in new bookings the company had in 1999 and less than its $115 million in new work from 1998.

As a result, the company's backlog of orders has shrunk by 16 percent to $94 million at the end of December from $112 million at the end of 1999.

For the year, Sevenson's profits rose 24 percent to a record $12.1 million, or $1.15 per share, from $9.7 million, or 93 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenues fell less than 1 percent to $126.5 million from $127.2 million.

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