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Verso Paper Corporation's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Pricing for pulp compared to last year was up $90 a ton, while our coated price was relatively flat year-over-year, but dropped sequentially on an average of $25 a ton, which we by the way projected in our last earnings call.

Operations from a cost perspective were up $2 million from Q1 2011 due to reduced production from machine shuts and some machine centers not running at the targeted levels. We did of course see year-over-year savings in spending and direct cost.

As has been the case in the past, our R-Gap process savings builds quarter-by-quarter throughout the year, and we anticipate the same results in 2012. During our last call, we suggested that input prices would remain flat. In this case that proved to be the case, as input prices were slightly lower sequentially.

That being said, input prices were significantly higher than the first quarter of 2011 and Bob will highlight the components of those direct costs later in the call.

We are also very busy in the quarter kicking off several capital structure refinancing alternative, and Bob will give you a very clear picture in a moment of those activities and the impact of the maturity schedule as we move forward. Bob.

Robert Mundy

If you will turn to slide 4, our overall volume for the quarter was about 8% below the first quarter of last year and 14% lower on a sequential basis for the seasonally slower first quarter. These volumes were in line with our internal projections which had assumed a slow start to the commercial plant, and served retail markets.

Additionally the comparison to last year’s is a bit skewed, as Mike indicated they turn almost record volume in March of last year. Revenues were down in a similar fashion for these reasons, as well as the falloff in pulp prices which bottomed out during the quarter. Coated prices were flat with last year’s levels and down a little less than 3% versus the first quarter of 2011.

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