USEC Inc. (NYSE:USU) today reported a net loss for the year ended December 31, 2011 of $540.7 million or $4.48 per basic and diluted share, primarily reflecting the impact of write-offs associated with the American Centrifuge project, tax-related valuation allowances and lower profit margin. This compares to a net income of $7.5 million or 5 cents per diluted share (7 cents per basic share) for 2010.
The tax-related valuation allowance and charge for the previously capitalized centrifuge machines were taken in the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2011. USEC reported a net loss of $496.0 million or $4.09 per basic and diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to net income of $9.0 million or 5 cents per diluted share (8 cents per basic share) for the same quarter of 2010. The charge and the valuation allowance did not affect the company’s cash flow from operations.
The significant loss for 2011 reflects the confluence of several factors. Expense for advanced technology, primarily related to the American Centrifuge project, totaled $273.2 million, including $127.1 million of previously capitalized work in progress related to earlier centrifuge machines that were determined to no longer be compatible with the commercial plant design. In the second quarter of 2011, USEC also expensed $9.6 million of previously capitalized construction work in progress costs for machines that were damaged during lead cascade operations. Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2011, all American Centrifuge related project costs incurred have been expensed, including interest expense that previously would have been capitalized. Advanced technology expense in the fourth quarter was $187.0 million.
The Company also recorded a full valuation allowance for the net deferred tax assets of $369.1 million due to cumulative losses incurred in recent years and due to the substantial uncertainty of generating future taxable income that would lead to realization of the net deferred tax assets. Gross profit declined $74.2 million in 2011 compared to 2010, reflecting lower sales volume and higher costs for separative work units (SWU) and uranium sold and the effect of pension plan and postretirement benefit plan curtailment charges related to the conclusion of contract services work at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (GDP).