swung to a first-quarter loss Thursday, hit by charges related to a loss on a write-down of assets.
The Stamford, Conn.-based paper and packaging manufacturer lost $1.2 billion, or $2.52 a share, in the quarter, compared with earnings of $77 million, or 16 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding charges of $2.66 a share for discontinued operations and 5 cents a share for special items, the company earned 19 cents a share in the most recent quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting the company to earn 15 cents a share.
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First-quarter revenue rose 1.8% from a year ago to $5.7 billion. Analysts were expecting revenue of $6.1 billion.
As part of its evaluation of strategic options for certain business units, the company recorded a pre-tax charge of $1.4 billion to reduce the carrying value of its Coated and Supercalendered Papers and Kraft Papers businesses, both of which it plans to sell. They are now considered discontinued operations.
The company said it expects the second quarter to be somewhat seasonally stronger than the first quarter, with average prices improving and also anticipates higher input costs, especially for oil and transportation.
"Higher price realizations, particularly in containerboard, boxes and uncoated papers, and strong mill performance and cost control are the biggest drivers of our earnings improvement from last quarter," the company said. "We also experienced far less market downtime in the quarter than in last quarter. Energy and raw material costs declined some, but are still about 13 cents a share higher than at this time last year."
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