International Paper's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

International Paper (IP)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 27, 2012 9:00 am ET


Glenn Landau - Vice President of Investor Relations

John V. Faraci - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Executive Committee

Carol L. Roberts - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Timothy S. Nicholls - Senior Vice President of Printing & Communications Papers

Mark Stephan Sutton - Senior Vice President of Industrial Packaging

Thomas Gustave Kadien - Senior Vice President - Consumer Packaging and Ip Asia


Steven Chercover - D.A. Davidson & Co., Research Division

Gail S. Glazerman - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Anthony Pettinari - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Phil M. Gresh - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Chip A. Dillon - Vertical Research Partners Inc.

Kurt Schoen - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc., Research Division

George L. Staphos - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Mark Wilde - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Mark A. Weintraub - The Buckingham Research Group Incorporated



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the First Quarter 2012 International Paper Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Thank you. Mr. Glenn Landau, you may begin your conference.

Glenn Landau

Good morning, and thank you for joining International Paper's First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. Our key speakers this morning are John Faraci, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Carol Roberts, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

During this call, we will make forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, which are outlined on Slide 2 of our presentations. We will also present certain non-U.S. GAAP financial information. A reconciliation of those figures to U.S. GAAP financial measures are available on our website. Our website also contains copies of the first quarter 2012 earnings press release and today's presentation slides.

So with that, I will now turn the call over to Mr. John Faraci.

John V. Faraci

Thanks, Glenn, and good morning, everybody. As we usually do, over the next 10 to 15 minutes, Carol Roberts and I will review our first quarter results with you, performances of our individual businesses then we'll open up for your questions. And we've got several of our business leaders here today to take some of those questions.

So let me start right in. To start off, International Paper earned $0.57 a share in the first quarter. It's the second best first quarter we've had since 2000, the best being last year. We continue to generate strong free cash flow and, importantly, got off to, I think, an excellent start, integrating Temple operations where we closed in mid-February. And we've accomplished a great deal in the first 6 weeks.

While our results were in line with -- slightly favorable for our expectations, we experienced a normal seasonal weakness that you always have in the first quarter coming out of the holidays in our U.S. businesses. And it's -- the first quarter is also slow in Latin America.

The main driver for year-over-year, as Carol will explain, were lower pulp paper packaging prices, primarily in export markets. And we supply those export markets out of North America, out of Brazil and through our Russian joint venture.

With that said, all the global markets really bottomed in the quarter from a pricing perspective and, on average, we're trending up as we exited the quarter and moved in April. So the pricing actions in the export markets are beginning to take hold. We really bottomed out in the first quarter.

We've also made very good progress on our strategic initiatives during the quarter. The Temple-Inland synergies began to improve from day one, allowing us to basically get to the first quarter with Temple being EPS awash. And we also continue to make a lot of progress at many initiatives we have in the pipeline, which will be completed this year and will produce results next year. The Franklin fluff pulp project, the new coated board machine and the Sun joint venture in China; the 2 big projects in the Ilim Joint Venture; the Mogi Guaçu boiler, which is going to reduce our energy cost in Brazil; and the xpedx strategic initiatives. All those will impact earnings in a positive way next year.

So let me move to the next slide, Slide 5 in your deck. Revenues for the quarter were up 5% versus last year in the fourth quarter, mainly due to the Temple-Inland acquisition. EBITDA margins were in line with expectations. Free cash flow -- International Paper's free cash flow story remains strong at almost $360 million for the quarter, roughly equivalent to the first quarter of last year when you normalize for capital spending levels.

So before I turn the presentation over to Carol, I would just like to once again welcome the employees of Temple-Inland, who many are listening in, to International Paper and reiterate how encouraged I am with the early progress that we're making, integrating the businesses, and just reinforce our vision of aggressively building and operating the best corrugated packaging business in the world. And we measure that a couple of ways by our results versus the competition, the quality of our employees and the quality of our customers and the returns we generate for our shareowners.

So good first quarter, and I'll turn it over to Carol.

Carol L. Roberts

Thanks, John, and good morning, everyone. Let's take a look at the first quarter financial bridge, and we'll move from first quarter of '11 to first quarter of '12. As John just shared, we earned $0.57 a share from continuing operations before special items. And the good news is volume was up slightly, but we did see price erosion of about $0.20 year-over-year, and that was associated with the pass-through of market pulp price declines, as well as paper and packaging export price declines, mostly negotiated in the fourth quarter of '11. Some came into the first quarter of '12, and we'll talk about that a little bit more at the end.

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