Manufacturing Costs Hurt International Paper Earnings

Paper and packaging company says improved pricing offset by higher raw material costs and planned maintenance outages.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Paper and packaging company International Paper said Thursday its second-quarter profit more than doubled year-over-year but failed to meet Wall Street expectations, as improved pricing was offset by raw material costs and planned maintenance outages.

Net income rose to $190 million, or 44 cents per share, from $83 million, or 17 cents per share, a year ago. Earnings per share from continuing operations before one-time items grew to 52 cents per share from 30 cents in the prior-year period.

Quarterly sales slipped to $5.29 billion from $5.72 billion in the second quarter of 2006, primarily reflecting year-ago sales from the company's U.S. coated papers business, which was sold in August 2006.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for larger profit of 54 cents per share on higher revenue of $5.4 billion.

The company said global demand for paper and packaging continues to grow, but earnings were hurt by higher raw material costs, planned maintenance outage costs, and expenses at its Pensacola, Fla., mill related to maintenance and the conversion of a paper machine to lightweight linerboard production.

''We expect somewhat stronger earnings from continuing operations, with continued cost reduction and pricing improvement in some markets, including pulp and packaging, as well as higher land sales,'' said Chairman and Chief Executive John Faraci. ''Input costs will remain high, but we anticipate continued operations improvement and cost reduction across our global manufacturing base, as well as lower mill maintenance shutdown expenses in the quarter.''

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