Wausau Paper Corp ( WPP)

Q3 2010 Earnings Call

October 28, 2010 11:00 a.m. ET


Perry Grueber - Director, IR

Tom Howatt - President & CEO

Mike Wildenberg - SVP

Scott Doescher - EVP, Finance


Michael Roxland - BofA Merrill Lynch

Christopher Chung - Deutsche Bank



Welcome to the Wausau Paper 2010 Third Quarter Results Conference Call. (Operator instructions). As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to our host Mr. Perry Grueber, Director of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Perry Grueber

Thank you Joe, good morning everyone and thank you for joining us for the Wausau Paper's 2010 third quarter analyst and investor call. I am pleased to be here today with Tom Howatt, our President and Chief Executive Officer; Scott Doescher, Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer; and Mike Wildenberg, Senior VP of Tissue Segment.

This call is being web cast and slides are provided to summarize key elements of our presentation. The presentation is also downloadable from the investor section of the website wausaupaper.com.

In a moment Tom will begin our presentation by reviewing third quarter results for the corporation in our Paper segment. Mike will then review the Tissue segment's financial performance and discuss our current quarter expectations for that business. Following those comments, Scott will provide a high level financial review, and finally, Tom will comment on our strategies, priorities and third quarter outlook, after which we would be happy to address any questions you might have.

Statements made during this presentation, other than those that refer to past results are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of the Securities Reform Act of 1995. Such statements, including those concerning expected performance, price increases and future earnings or dividends involve risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those expectations set forth during this discussion. Among other things, these risks and uncertainties include the risks and assumptions described in item 1A and item 7 of the company's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009.

The company assumes no obligation to update or supplement forward-looking statements that become untrue because of subsequent events. In addition, our presentation refers to certain non-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of these measures to GAAP is provided in the appendix of this presentation and is also available on our website.

And with those formalities out of the way, I'll now turn the call over to Tom Howatt. Tom?

Tom Howatt

Good morning everyone. I'll begin with highlights of our third quarter performance. Third quarter net earnings of $0.27 per share were modestly below last years $0.30 per share.

Adjusted earnings for the quarter were just $0.03 per share below last year despite absorbing record high market pulp prices.

Earnings exceeded our earlier guidance of $0.13 to $0.15 per share due to our particularly strong sales mix and full realization of recent selling price increases.

And at the October meeting the Board of Directors reinstated a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.03 per share and recognition of the earnings and balance sheet improvements achieved since the spending the dividend in early 2009. The combination of persistently high unemployment, weak consumer spending and a lack of recovery and housing markets has resulted in an economic recovery that remains quite fragile.

That said our market place strategies continue to create opportunities for growth. Our green leader position and away from home Tissue markets remain strong and we are well positioned to grow and select technical paper markets such as food, tape, industrial and coated liner.

Finally, while prices for market pulp have begun to decline for record levels, the pace of decline has to-date than far more muted than previously forecasted. Turning to our earnings summary, adjusted net earnings of $0.20 per share for the quarter were achieved despite absorbing year-over-year fiber cost increases equal to $0.27 per share. Results benefited from solid product mix gains in both businesses as well as full realization of recent selling price increases.

We believe our favorable performance in the face of exceptional input cost volatility is a direct result of the effective market development strategies coupled with the restructuring and investment actions undertaken in the recent years.

Moving to our Paper segment, third quarter adjusted operating profit was $8.3 million versus $9.9 million in the prior year. Earning is still relatively flat despite absorbing $17 million and year-over-year fiber cost increases.

Reduced year-over-year shipments reflect the 2009 closure of the Jay main mill as well as concentrated inventory reduction efforts in the prior year. Despite the decline in shipments net sales held even with the prior year as first half pricing action and mixed gains were realized. Demand and consumer oriented markets remained week in the quarter while technical sectors performed more favorably.

The rebuild of our Brainerd paper machine remains on schedule for a first quarter 2011 startup and will require 18 days of downtime in the quarter. The rebuilt machine will be cost effective across the full spectrum of premium, intermediate and value tape grades and will also improve the cost position and quality of our print and color grades produced at Brainerd. At this time we're actively engaged with customers and in both our tape and industrial sectors to execute a smooth commercialization plan as we bring capacity online to support their growth.

I'd now like to ask Mike Wildenberg to review market conditions and the performance of our Tissue segment.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com

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