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NewPage Second Quarter Sales Down Slightly

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Press release from the issuing company

MIAMISBURG, Ohio, – NewPage Corporation (NewPage) today announced its results of operations for the second quarter of 2011.

Sales and Earnings

Net sales in the second quarter of 2011 were $888 million compared to $890 million in the second quarter of 2010.  Higher average paper sales prices were offset by lower sales volume during the second quarter of 2011 due in part to certain unplanned outages as well as reduced overall demand.  Net income (loss) was $(132) million in the second quarter of 2011 compared to $(174) million in the second quarter of 2010.

Adjusted EBITDA (as defined in the attached reconciliation), as further adjusted to exclude certain items shown in the table below, was $68 million in the second quarter of 2011 compared to $20 million in the second quarter of 2010.

Adjusted EBITDA including these items was $32 million in the second quarter of 2011 compared to $10 million in the second quarter of 2010. Items include the costs related to the controlled shutdown of the Wickliffe, Kentucky mill in response to the Mississippi River flood that resulted in 21 days of lost production, as well as the costs related to the extended scheduled total mill outages for maintenance at four mill locations: Biron, Duluth, Rumford and Wisconsin Rapids. The company typically plans these extended total outages at its mills every three to five years and incurred such extended mill outages during the second quarter. No other extended total mill outages for maintenance are planned during 2011. The items also include one-time payments resulting from the execution of new labor agreements and advisor fees associated with exploring recapitalization alternatives.  During the second quarter of 2010 the company incurred $10 million of severance costs that impacted results for that period.

Adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the second quarter of 2010 benefitted from a $65 million improvement in sales prices, an $8 million improvement in mix, partially offset by lower volume, and a $35 million improvement in operational performance. These benefits were partially offset by $46 million of greater inflation on input costs driven primarily by chemicals and fuel surcharges on wood and other freight.  

"During the quarter, we were able to realize improved pricing even as we experienced inflationary pressure and some softening in demand for our core products," said George F. Martin, president and chief executive officer for NewPage.

Liquidity

NewPage ended the second quarter with $136 million of available liquidity, consisting of $9 million of cash and cash equivalents and $127 million available for borrowing under the company's revolving credit facility. "The company did an excellent job optimizing working capital during the second quarter," said Jay A. Epstein who joined the company as senior vice president and chief financial officer on July 5, 2011.  "Liquidity management continues to be a priority for the company."  It is uncertain whether or when the previously-disclosed Rumford Cogeneration and Consolidated Water Power Company asset sale transactions will close, as certain conditions to closing the transactions may not be satisfied.  The company is exploring options to address these conditions.

Market Conditions and Outlook

The company's sales backlog and order rates are increasing in the third quarter of 2011, in line with the traditional seasonal uptick driven by the catalog and retail segments.  NewPage experienced significant increases in input costs during the first half of 2011 compared to the first half of 2010, due to higher prices for wood, chemicals and purchased pulp. In particular, costs of certain petroleum-based chemicals and transportation costs increased during the first half of 2011 compared to the first half of 2010, principally as a result of increases in the price of crude oil. The company anticipates crude oil and energy costs to remain volatile for the foreseeable future.

Strong demand for specialty products and new product introduction supported improvement in the specialty business in the second quarter of 2011.  Prices for coated paper in North America continued to improve, predominately for coated groundwood grades.  The improvement in pricing was partially offset by a reduction in overall demand, which continued to lag on a year-over-year basis. The reduction in overall demand is also a continuation of a trend observed in the first quarter of 2011.  Despite this reduction in demand NewPage did not take market-related downtime during the second quarter of 2011.

Operations at the Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia mill have been negatively impacted by the stronger Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar and high utility costs, and the mill is anticipating an additional 16 percent increase in energy costs next year.  As compared to the second quarter of 2010 there was a $4 million negative variance to EBITDA as a result of the movement in U.S. / Canadian foreign exchange rates.  Port Hawkesbury produces quality supercalendered paper, improved newsprint and standard newsprint for the printing and publishing industries as well as other coated groundwood products.  Port Hawkesbury's total production capacity is approximately 600,000 tons per year.

 

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