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Wausau-Mosinee Paper Announces Improved Fourth-Quarter Earnings

Press release from the issuing company

MOSINEE, Wis., Jan. 30 - Wausau-Mosinee Paper today announced fourth-quarter net earnings of $4.7 million, or $.09 per share, up sharply from fourth-quarter 2000 net earnings of $1.1 million, or $.02 per share. Fourth-quarter net sales were $223.8 million compared to $231.6 million last year. Net earnings for the year were $9.7 million, or $.19 per share, compared to 2000 earnings of $0.7 million, or $.01 per share. Results for 2000 include expenses of $.33 per share related to the Sorg Paper Company closure, an anti-trust settlement and the resignation of the Company's former CEO. Net earnings also include stock incentive expenses of $.04 per share in 2001 and $.01 per share in 2000. Net sales for 2001 were $943.7 million compared to $990.9 million last year. Commenting on the quarterly results, Thomas J. Howatt, President and CEO, said that improved earnings were driven by lower energy and raw materials prices, and an internal focus on cost reduction and improved operating efficiencies. Mr. Howatt noted that the Company achieved significant progress on its internal initiatives despite the difficult operating environment. "While second-half earnings benefited from lower natural gas and pulp costs, substantial second-half gains were driven by improved operating efficiencies and successful cost-reduction efforts. In addition, tightly controlled capital spending and reduced working capital resulted in a significant improvement in cash flows.'' Mr. Howatt pointed out that the company achieved record production levels at several facilities for the year, and that capital spending was reduced to $30 million from $87 million in 2000. Targeted components of working capital also declined $48 million from late 2000. Improved cash flows allowed the Company to pay down long-term debt by $85 million or 30 percent from late first quarter peak levels. "As we enter 2002 we have yet to see any indication of improving market conditions,'' Mr. Howatt concluded. "This makes it critical that we continue our focus on the internal initiatives begun in 2001. Of particular importance is the need for improved results from our Specialty Paper business which has been most significantly impacted by the economic downturn. Our ongoing emphasis on product development, and the identification of new, more profitable market niches will be particularly critical to this business segment's return to profitability.''