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Wausau-Mosinee Paper Reports Substantial Increase In First-Quarter Earnings

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Press release from the issuing company

MOSINEE, Wisc.--April 26, 2004-- Wausau-Mosinee Paper Corporation today reported first-quarter earnings of $3.5 million, or $0.07 per share, up substantially from year-ago earnings of $1.3 million, or $0.03 per share. Net sales rose 5 percent to $251.8 million, and shipments increased 2 percent to 215,000 tons. "Increased first-quarter earnings principally reflect product mix improvement and volume gains driven by successful product development efforts and our strong service platform," explained Thomas J. Howatt, president and chief executive officer. "All three of our business segments posted strong increases in operating profit despite higher fiber costs and continuing high energy prices." Specialty Paper reported its seventh consecutive quarter of year- over-year profit improvement and its highest quarterly net sales total since the second quarter of 2000. Operating profits more than doubled to $3.5 million, from $1.5 million the year before, and net sales increased 9 percent. "Specialty Paper's profit improvement was driven by new-business development, select selling price increases and strong operations," Mr. Howatt said. "Revenues from products developed within the past three years continued to exceed 40 percent during the quarter, which helped reduce shipments of lower-priced noncore products by 50 percent compared to last year." Printing & Writing reported first-quarter operating profits of $2.6 million, up substantially from $1.5 million for the same period last year. Net sales were up 2 percent as premium shipments increased 9 percent. "Margins for uncoated printing papers remain well below expectations due to three years of declining demand. We believe, however, that a combination of product breadth, benchmark service and a focus on the growth segments of the market will provide superior returns over the long term," said Mr. Howatt. Towel & Tissue's first-quarter net sales rose 4 percent, and operating profits increased 32 percent to $5.3 million, from $4.0 million in the prior year, reflecting market share gains and successful cost-reduction efforts. "Innovative product offerings, such as our recently introduced EcoSoft Green Seal(1) certified products, have driven growth in our target markets and improved profitability. This focus on premium products, coupled with excellent service, delivers value to our customers and helps us gain market share," Mr. Howatt added. Looking to the second quarter, Mr. Howatt said, "The benefits of an improving economy have been slow to reach most segments of the paper industry. While we continue to benefit from product development successes and select selling price increases, we expect that historically high energy prices and increasing fiber costs will mitigate a portion of the benefit. Ultimately, we expect second-quarter earnings to represent a solid improvement over the first quarter with results in the range of current analysts' estimates of $0.11 per share to $0.13 per share."




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