Verso Paper Corp. issues report on first quarter 2014 results

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Verso Paper Corp. has reported financial results for the first quarter of 2014. Results for the quarters ended March 31, and 2013 include net sales of $299.1 million in the first quarter of 2014 compared to $333.2 million in the first quarter of 2013.

Net loss before items of $69.1 million, or $1.30 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2014, compared to net loss before items of $41.3 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2013.

Verso’s net sales for the first quarter of 2014 decreased $34.1 million, or 10.2 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2013, reflecting a 1.9 percent decrease in average sales price per ton and an 8.5 percent decline in total sales volume.

Prices for the pulp segment were higher while coated and other segment prices declined. Volumes and operating costs were negatively impacted by significant downtime taken during the quarter, weather-related increases to energy, wood, and operating costs as well as a planned capital spending related outage at our Androscoggin mill.

“We experienced a seasonally weak first quarter that was a bit slower than normal as shipments slowed and we took over 38,000 tons of downtime related to market conditions and energy-related curtailments in order to keep our inventories in line with expectations and to help minimize our energy exposure,” said David Paterson, president and chief executive officer of Verso.

“As we mentioned last quarter, pricing pressure on our coated business remained with us and we experienced weather-related costs in both our operations as well as our input prices.

“As we look to the second quarter, we see improvements in our paper and pulp volumes to levels comparable to last year as well as significantly lower energy prices and improved operating performance,” he said.

“Additionally, we expect to continue to make great progress in the planning and integration phases of the proposed NewPage acquisition. Finally, we have recently entered into an agreement for a $40 million revolving credit facility and continue to evaluate selling non-strategic assets in the future to obtain additional liquidity.”

Verso Paper Corp. is a leading North American producer of coated papers, including coated groundwood and coated freesheet, and specialty products. Verso is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, and owns three paper mills located in Maine and Michigan, including a mill in Quinnesec.