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Wausau-Mosinee Paper Corporation Announces Q3 Results

Press release from the issuing company

MOSINEE, Wisc.--Oct. 21, 2003-- Wausau-Mosinee Paper Corporation today reported third-quarter 2003 net earnings of $6.0 million, or $0.12 per share, compared to $7.6 million, or $0.15 per share, in the same period last year. Third-quarter earnings included stock incentive charges of $0.01 per share in 2003 and credits of $0.02 per share in 2002. Third-quarter net sales were $249.5 million compared with $251.1 million last year. Net earnings for the first nine months of 2003 were $10.5 million, or $0.20 per share, compared with $16.7 million, or $0.32 per share, during the same period last year. Earnings included stock incentive charges of $0.01 per share in 2003 and credits of $0.01 per share in 2002. Net sales increased 2 percent to $732.2 million from $714.9 million reported last year. "We are pleased to report third-quarter earnings, excluding the impact of stock incentives, comparable to prior year despite significant cost pressures and continuing difficult market conditions," said Thomas J. Howatt, president and CEO. "The typical fall rebound in printing paper markets was well below seasonal expectations, and away-from-home tissue markets were uncharacteristically weak. Our ongoing focus on new-product development, increased operating efficiencies and cost reduction allowed us to largely offset natural gas and fiber cost increases that were $0.08 per share above year-ago levels." Specialty Paper Group operating profits substantially improved to $2.4 million in the third quarter from $59,000 in 2002. "Average selling price increased 5 percent compared with last year, and our cost-reduction program yielded substantial results," said Howatt. "We are pleased with Specialty Paper's performance in the face of difficult market conditions and increased raw material and energy costs. Revenues from products developed within the last three years reached nearly 50 percent, allowing us to improve our sales mix and reduce reliance on lower-margin products." Printing & Writing Group operating profits declined to $5.3 million from $6.0 million last year as market pulp and natural gas cost increases of approximately $4.0 million more than offset sales volume gains and cost-reduction results. "Despite a fourth consecutive year of decline in uncoated free-sheet markets, we continue to gain share in our target markets. We've increased third-quarter consumer product shipments by more than 20 percent and premium paper shipments by 4 percent compared to last year," said Howatt. "We differentiate our business through product leadership and outstanding customer service, which are helping us achieve market share gains." Towel & Tissue Group reported third-quarter operating profits of $7.6 million compared with $9.2 million last year. Average selling price declined 3 percent while sales volume held even with prior-year levels. "Towel and tissue markets are growing at a rate below the long-term trend and are extremely competitive at present, as some suppliers appear focused on market share in advance of impending industry capacity increases," said Howatt. "Despite this pressure we have continued to increase shipments of our higher-margin, value-added grades, achieving year-to-date growth of 5 percent in this product category." Looking to the fourth quarter, Howatt commented, "We remain very optimistic about our long-term ability to compete successfully in our target markets despite the current difficult business environment, and we believe we are properly focused on those elements of our business that will drive that success. On a short-term basis, market conditions have yet to show any sign of meaningful improvement, while cost pressures continue. As a result, we expect fourth-quarter earnings to fall somewhat short of the prior-year level of $0.12 per share."