Blue Rhino Raises Guidance

Blue Rhino ( RINO) expects 2002 earnings that are roughly double that envisioned by analysts on 40% higher revenue. It cited strong demand for its cylinder exchange services

In May 2002, the company forecast fiscal year revenue to be $138 million; now it is expecting at least $200 million. Blue Rhino expects earnings before non-operating expenses to be above 70 cents, 35 cents higher than analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial predicted. The 70 cents per share is also well above Blue Rhino's loss of 7 cents per share from last year.

Blue Rhino's bottom-line earnings and EBITDA are also expected to increase significantly. Net earnings per share are expected to be above 50 cents per share, compared with a loss of 41 cents per share in 2001. EBITDA is expected to increase by at least 80% to more than $24 million, compared with $13 million last year.

The CEO of Blue Rhino, Billy D. Prim, said consumer interest in the company has increased because of new fire safety standards that require overfill protection valves on every 20 pound propane cylinder. "Our Blue Rhino exchange service is a convenient, safe solution to replacing cylinders that have been made obsolete by this new safety standard," Prim said in a press release.

Blue Rhino will release actual numbers for its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2002 on Sept. 17.

Analysts polled by First Call predict Blue Rhino's EPS to be 3 cents for its first quarter of 2003 and 80 cents for the year.

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