Verso Paper Posts Second Quarter Loss

Aug. 9, 2012 - Verso Paper Corp. today reported financial results for the second quarter and six months ended June 30, 2012. Results for the quarters ended June 30, 2012 and 2011 include:

  • EBITDA of $44.4 million in the second quarter of 2012 compared to $38.8 million in the second quarter of 2011, and Adjusted EBITDA before pro forma effects of profitability program of $23.5 million in the second quarter of 2012, compared to $43.6 million in the second quarter of 2011. (Note: EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are non-GAAP financial measures and are defined and reconciled to net income later in this release).
  • Net loss of $20.7 million in the second quarter of 2012, or $0.39 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $24.3 million, or $0.46 per diluted share in the second quarter of 2011.
  • Operating loss of $9.5 million in the second quarter of 2012 compared to operating income of $7.0 million in the second quarter of 2011.
  • Net sales of $365.3 million in the second quarter of 2012 compared to $398.8 million in the second quarter of 2011.

OVERVIEW

Verso’s net sales for the second quarter of 2012 decreased $33.5 million, or 8.4%, reflecting a 5.5% decrease in the average sales price for all of our products combined with a 3.1% decline in total sales volume, which was driven by the shutdown of three paper machines late last year. Verso’s gross margin was 11.5% for the second quarter of 2012 compared to 15.1% for the second quarter of 2011, reflecting the higher average sales prices during 2011.

Verso reported a net loss of $20.7 million in the second quarter of 2012, or $0.39 per diluted share, which included $22.4 million of net benefits from special items, or $0.42 per diluted share, primarily due to debt refinancing. Verso had a net loss of $24.3 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2011, which included $3.7 million of charges from special items, or $0.07 per diluted share.

“Demand in the coated industry continued to be challenged during the second quarter of 2012 which resulted in a delay in the announced price increases during the quarter. This was primarily a result of the drop-off in advertising spending and slowdowns in the commercial print area which are impacted by the sluggish GDP growth. However, our coated groundwood and coated freesheet volumes were relatively flat with last year’s levels and we did a good job of managing our pricing relative to overall market demand. Adjusted EBITDA was comparable to the first quarter of this year and slightly better if you exclude the over $5.0 million impact related to scheduled maintenance outages we took during the second quarter,” said David Paterson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Verso.

“Our company was further challenged during the quarter by the fire and explosion at our Sartell Mill that resulted in the tragic loss of one of our employees and injuries to four others. As we announced last week, we have made the decision not to restart the Sartell Mill and will begin to evaluate options relative to the future of the site.

“We anticipate that coated groundwood prices will gain positive momentum throughout the third quarter and coated freesheet prices to be stable as we move into the busier second half of the year. Overall, volumes will be similar to last year’s levels after giving consideration to the Sartell Mill closure. We expect operating costs to benefit from the continuation of our cost reduction initiatives and input prices are expected to remain fairly flat versus the second quarter.

"The U.S. coated groundwood market should be relatively in balance for the remainder of the year as a result of recent capacity reductions including the recently announced closure of our Sartell Mill.”

Net Sales. Net sales for the second quarter of 2012 decreased 8.4%, to $365.3 million from $398.8 million in the second quarter of 2011, reflecting a 5.5% decrease in the average sales price for all of our products, led by a quarter-over-quarter decline in the price of pulp, although it was up on a sequential-quarter basis. Additionally, total sales volume was down 3.1% compared to the second quarter of 2011, which was driven by the shutdown of three paper machines late last year.

Net sales for our coated papers segment decreased 11.1% in the second quarter of 2012 to $285.0 million from $320.7 million for the same period in 2011, due to a 7.8% decrease in paper sales volume, which was driven by the shutdown of three paper machines late last year, combined with a 3.7% decrease in the average paper sales price per ton.

Net sales for our market pulp segment were $36.2 million in both the second quarter of 2012 and 2011. The average sales price per ton decreased 11.9% while sales volume increased 13.7% compared to the second quarter of 2011.

Net sales for our other segment increased 5.0% to $44.1 million in the second quarter of 2012 from $41.9 million in the second quarter of 2011. The improvement in 2012 was due to a 12.7% increase in sales volume, reflecting the continued development of new paper product offerings for our customers. The average sales price per ton decreased 6.8%.

Cost of sales. Cost of sales, including depreciation, amortization, and depletion, was $355.0 million in the second quarter of 2012 compared to $370.1 million in 2011. Our gross margin, excluding depreciation, amortization, and depletion, was 11.5% for the second quarter of 2012 compared to 15.1% for the second quarter of 2011, reflecting higher average sales prices during 2011. Depreciation, amortization, and depletion expenses were $31.8 million for the second quarter of 2012 compared to $31.6 million for the second quarter of 2011.

Selling, general, and administrative. Selling, general, and administrative expenses were $19.9 million in the second quarter of 2012 compared to $21.7 million for the same period in 2011.

Interest expense. Interest expense for the second quarter of 2012 was $33.3 million compared to $31.6 million for the same period in 2011.

Other income, net. Other income, net for the second quarter of 2012 was a gain of $22.1 million compared to a gain of $0.2 million for the second quarter of 2011. Included in the results for the second quarter of 2012 were gains of $21.8 million related to the early retirement of debt in connection with debt refinancing.

Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Verso Paper Corp. is a leading North American producer of coated papers, including coated groundwood and coated freesheet, and specialty paper products. Verso’s paper products are used primarily in media and marketing applications, including magazines, catalogs and commercial printing applications such as high-end advertising brochures, annual reports and direct-mail advertising.

SOURCE: Verso Paper Corp.