International Paper, Memphis, Tennessee, released its first quarter 2019 financial results. According to a news release from International Paper, the company reported first quarter net earnings attributable to International Paper of $424 million compared with $316 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $729 million in the first quarter of 2018.
“International Paper delivered solid earnings and generated strong cash from operations in the first quarter," says Mark Sutton, chairman and CEO. “Operational performance was strong; we managed costs well and leveraged the strength and flexibility of our manufacturing system. In the first quarter, we also returned nearly $400 million to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Looking ahead to the second quarter, we anticipate improved seasonal demand and we are well positioned to continue generating strong cash flows in 2019.”
Industrial packaging operating profits in the first quarter of 2019 were $404 million compared with $647 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. International Paper reports that earnings declined in North America in this segment due to lower demand for boxes and export containerboard, increased economic downtime and higher planned maintenance outage expenses. Input costs were slightly favorable. In Europe, earnings decreased driven by lower sales prices and volumes due to weaker economic conditions, primarily in Turkey and unfavorable foreign currency impacts.
Printing papers operating profits for the first quarter of 2019 were $143 million versus $192 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. The company reports that in North America, decreased volumes were partially offset by improved sales prices and mix. Manufacturing operating costs increased primarily due to seasonality and inflation. In Brazil, earnings decreased because of seasonally lower demand and unfavorable geographic mix, slightly offset by improved domestic sales prices. In Europe and Russia, earnings benefited from higher sales prices for uncoated freesheet paper and lower input costs. Sales volumes increased in Europe but were lower in Russia.