NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Latest data from the American Forest & Paper Association show that containerboard, boxboard, unbleached Kraft, and solid bleached folding paperboard production for February 2011 increased phenomenally from the year-ago month, indicating improved demand. Meanwhile, many paperboard producers like Caraustar Industries ( CSAR), Rock-Tenn ( RKT) and Sonoco Products ( SON) have already announced price increases effective April 2011.

An industry analyst believes that while on one hand, prices for a few paper grades have already touched highs, the paper industry on the whole is still only halfway through its upward cycle. Furthermore, Bill Moore, a paper-recycling consultant with Moore & Associates, forecasts that going forward, he remains bullish for the recovered paper and finished paper markets. Thereby, he foresees a solid footing for the paper industry in the future.

A forest products industry analyst believes that despite challenges like tightening margins, factors like energy prices, capacity management at paper mills and a 2% growth in the economy would support exceptional growth in the paper industry. Additionally, recovered fiber purchases by Chinese mills reflect no signs of a slowdown.

Based on analysts' consensus estimates polled by Bloomberg, these six stocks from the paper industry have upsides ranging from 14% to 31% over the next 12 months, with strong buy and hold ratings. These companies reported a robust earnings quarter and fundamentals continue positive.

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