On The Block

Wellman Inc. has hired Lazard Ltd. to lay out options for a possible sale before the end of the year. Wellman’s Chairman and CEO Tom Duff said the company would like to see the range of strategic alternatives “before we begin the task of refinancing our debt in 2008.” The Fort Mills, S.C.-based company’s loss from continuing operations for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 narrowed to $22.3 million from $34.3 million a year earlier. In addition, the maker of plastic packaging, fibers and engineering resins plans further streamlining of its operations and expects to reduce its 2008 costs by $20 million to $25 million compared with 2007 levels.

Contango Oil & Gas Co. is exploring more than new drilling opportunities. The Houston-based company has hired Merrill Lynch & Co. as a financial adviser to plot a potential sale or merger. The natural gas and oil company could sell its Arkansas Fayetteville Shale interest, its Freeport LNG partnership interest or other assets. Contango, which has a market capitalization of about $749 million, doesn’t expect to make further public comment about the process until the board approves a specific transaction or course of action.

PowerSecure International Inc. could soon jettison some of its pieces. The Wake Forest, N.C.-based company has engaged Stephens Inc. as financial adviser to focus on alternatives for non-core assets amid declining performance. PowerSecure’s (Nasdaq: POWR) net income for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 fell to $2.7 million from $2.9 million a year earlier. Looking ahead, the provider of energy technology products, services and data management systems expects 2007 income from continuing operations to reach $11 million to $13 million before restructuring charges. PowerSecure has hired an executive-search firm to find a new chief financial officer to replace Gary J. Zuiderveen, who will remain with the company as senior vice president of financial reporting.

Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. might try on a new outfit. The retailer has retained Financo Inc. as a financial adviser to identify and explore strategic alternatives for its demo store concept with 154 locations. The retailer of casual apparel, accessories and footwear (Nasdaq: PSUN) previously announced plans to close its nine One Thousand Step stores. The Anaheim, Calif.-based company’s total sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 6 rose to $106.2 million from $100.9 million a year earlier. Total company same-store sales rose 2.7 percent, led by growth from the PacSun store concept. However, September same-store sales at demo stores fell 15.4 from a year earlier.