Canadian Manufacturing

Dicey first quarter for pulp and paper maker Domtar

The Montreal-based paper and forest product company benefited from better paper pricing than expected, but productivity at several mills was down



MONTREAL—Domtar Corp. reported adjusted earnings were $33 million, down from $61 million a year earlier.

Net income before adjustments, which is less closely watched by analysts, was also below the consensus estimate

The Montreal-based paper and forest product company benefited from better paper pricing than expected, but productivity at several mills was upset by the reconfiguration of its operations in Marlboro, S.C..

“The first quarter results in our paper business were disappointing and this is due to low productivity, resulting in high costs,” John Williams, Domtar’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“We anticipate a return to a more normalized productivity in the quarters to come,” he said.

Domtar’s net income for the quarter was $45 million, about 60 per cent above the year-earlier profit of $28 million. Both quarters in each year had several unusual items.

Sales for the three months ended March 31 were $1.345 billion, which was slightly better than estimates.

The company’s outlook calls for moderate improvements in pricing for pulp and steady shipments. Paper volumes are expected to be similar to the first quarter in the near term.

Domtar shipped 828,000 tons of paper in the first quarter, down from 870,000 tons a year earlier. Pulp shipments fell to 372,000 air-dried metric tonnes (ADMT), down from 389,000.

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