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MeadWestvaco Expects Gain on Land Sales; First Quarter 2004 Outlook

Press release from the issuing company

STAMFORD, Conn., March 31 -- MeadWestvaco Corporation today announced that it expects to recognize gains of approximately $68 million, or 21 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2004 on sales of 27,700 acres of forestlands with gross proceeds of approximately $74 million. The forestland proceeds include the sale of a 10,700-acre tract of land in South Carolina for $47 million, which was announced earlier today. For the first quarter of 2004, the company expects to report a net loss in the range of 10 to 15 cents per share. The anticipated loss includes the gain on the sales of forestlands, as well as costs of approximately 3 cents per share related to the company's productivity initiative. John A. Luke, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer, said, "Our first quarter results will reflect the continuing effects of a challenging marketplace including higher costs for wood and for market-related downtime in paper and paperboard, as well as the traditional seasonal weakness many of our businesses experience in the first quarter. We are, however, experiencing strengthening demand in our markets, particularly in papers and bleached board where we are no longer taking market-related downtime. We are also making good progress toward delivering profitable growth through our focus on higher value packaging solutions. Actions are well underway to reduce cost, improve working capital and earnings as part of the productivity initiative." MeadWestvaco will announce its full first quarter 2004 results on April 22, 2004, and will host a conference call to discuss the results on the same day.