The company reported net sales of $460.8 million for the first quarter of 2013, up 0.7% compared to $457.8 million for the first quarter of 2012. The GAAP net loss for the first quarter of 2013 was $(0.9) million, or $(0.04) per diluted share, compared to net earnings of $3.7 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2012. The net loss included $17.1 million in debt retirement costs, $3.5 million in mark-to-market impact of directors’ equity-based compensation expense, $0.2 million associated with the closing of the company’s Thomaston, Georgia facility and a tax benefit of $9.8 million associated with converting gallons from Alternative Fuel Mixture Tax Credits (AFMTC) to Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Credits (CBPC). Excluding those items, first quarter 2013 net earnings were $2.4 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, on an after-tax basis. For first quarter 2012, excluding $1.0 million of expenses associated with the Metso litigation, $0.4 million benefit in mark-to-market impact of directors’ equity-based compensation and a $5.7 million tax charge associated with converting gallons from CBPC to AFMTC, net earnings were $9.8 million, or $0.42 per diluted share, on an after-tax basis.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, was $34.6 million for the first quarter of 2013. Adjusted EBITDA of $38.3 million was down 16% as compared to first quarter 2012 Adjusted EBITDA of $45.8 million mainly due to lower consumer products margins, as discussed further below.
“Net sales, volumes and pricing were strong in both the Consumer Products and Pulp & Paperboard divisions in the quarter,” said Linda Massman, chief executive officer. “However, we faced some cost challenges that we expect to abate in the second quarter. Most of these were a result of limited inventory in retail tissue, caused by more demand in the quarter than we anticipated for conventional bathroom tissue. This had a negative impact on many of our cost categories, which was approximately $9 million in the first quarter. Despite these cost pressures, we still expect to achieve our $300 million adjusted EBITDA target for 2014.”
During the first quarter, the company repurchased approximately 830,000 shares of common stock at a total cost of $50.2 million. This amount includes $50 million associated with the company’s accelerated stock buyback program. The number of shares actually repurchased under the accelerated program through March 31, 2013 includes approximately 80% of the total number of shares expected to be acquired under that program. The company expects to repurchase the balance of its overall $100 million repurchase program by the end of 2013.
FIRST QUARTER 2013 SEGMENT PERFORMANCE
Net sales in the Consumer Products segment were $284.9 million for the first quarter of 2013, compared to first quarter 2012 net sales of $277.8 million. The 2.5% increase in net sales was primarily attributable to higher volumes, which more than offset a slight decline in net selling prices per ton. Operating income decreased to $10.1 million from $26.3 million in the prior year period, driven primarily by increased transportation and purchased paper costs. These increased costs were caused by lower inventories as a result of increased conventional tissue sales and shipments in connection with the anticipated ramp up in through-air-dried (TAD) production and sales in 2013. Operating income was also impacted by higher external pulp costs and higher labor costs in first quarter 2013.
Tissue sales volumes increased 3% to 132,596 tons in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012 due to higher retail and non-retail shipments.
Average net selling prices decreased 0.4% to $2,149 per ton in the first quarter of 2013 as compared to the first quarter of 2012 due to a 2.6% decline in non-retail pricing caused by lower machine-glazed and contract manufacturing pricing.
The company’s new TAD paper machine in Shelby, North Carolina produced 13,000 tons of tissue in the quarter, slightly above expectations.
Pulp and Paperboard
Net sales of $175.9 million for the first quarter of 2013 were down 2.2% compared to first quarter 2012 net sales of $180.0 million. The decrease was primarily due to lower paperboard pricing, partially offset by increased volumes. Operating income for the quarter increased 50.6% to $17.6 million, compared to $11.7 million for the first quarter of 2012, primarily due to lower major maintenance expense.
Paperboard sales volumes increased 2.3% to 186,350 tons in the first quarter of 2013, compared to the first quarter of 2012.
Paperboard net selling prices decreased 3.4% to $935 per ton caused by softness in the markets for plate, folding, and cup products.
Scheduled major maintenance expense in Arkansas was $5.0 million for the quarter compared to major maintenance expense in Idaho of $15.5 million for the same period in 2012.
The company’s effective tax rate for the quarter was a benefit of 94.3%, compared to an expense of 76.6% in the first quarter of 2012. This was mostly associated with converting gallons from AFMTC to CBPC. The company expects its annual effective tax rate to be approximately 23% for 2013. Excluding adjusting items, consisting of debt retirement costs, the mark-to-market impact of directors’ equity-based compensation, costs associated with the closing of the company’s Thomaston, Georgia facility and tax benefits associated with converting gallons from AFMTC to CBPC, the estimated annual effective tax rate is approximately 37%.
Note Regarding Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures
In this press release, the company presents its results for the first quarter of 2013 and 2012, including EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA, adjusted net earnings and adjusted net earnings per diluted share excluding special items. These amounts are not in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and accordingly reconciliations to net earnings and net earnings per diluted share as determined in accordance with GAAP are included at the end of this press release. The company presents these amounts because management believes they assist investors and analysts in comparing the company’s performance across reporting periods on a consistent basis by excluding items that the company does not believe are indicative of its core operating performance.