Buckeye Technologies Slips To Q2 Loss

(RTTNews.com) – Cellulose-based specialty products maker Buckeye Technologies, Inc. (BKI) reported Tuesday a loss for the second quarter compared to a profit last year, hurt by significant impairment charges. Meanwhile, adjusted earnings per share grew, reflecting better margins and revenue growth amid higher selling prices and increased specialty wood fibers shipment volume, and topped analysts’ expectations, while quarterly revenues trailed their estimates.

“The key drivers of year over year improvements continue to be strong markets and selling prices, better capacity utilization at our Memphis specialty cotton fibers plant, and benefits from our cost improvement initiatives,” Chairman and CEO John Crowe said in a statement.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based fibers and non-woven materials maker reported a net loss of $5.36 million or $0.14 per share for the second quarter, compared to net income of $16.74 million or $0.42 per share in the prior-year quarter.

The results for the latest quarter include after-tax non-cash asset impairment charges of $29.7 million or $0.74 per share, and income tax expense of $3.6 million or $0.09 per share related to cellulosic biofuel credits.

Excluding items, adjusted net income for the quarter grew to $27.9 million or $0.69 per share from $20.3 million or $0.50 per share in the year-ago quarter.

On average, 4 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $0.66 per share for the quarter. Analysts’ estimates typically exclude special items.

Net sales for the quarter increased 8 percent to $227.10 million from $209.52 million in the same quarter last year on higher selling prices and improved specialty wood fibers shipment volume, but missed three Wall Street analysts’ consensus estimate of $239.54 million.

Specialty fibers net sales increased to $176.66 million from $155.32 million, and nonwoven materials net sales grew to $58.31 million from $62.43 million last year.

Gross margin for the quarter expanded 280 basis points to 24.0 percent from last year’s 21.2 percent.

During the second quarter, the company had an income tax benefit of $6.03 million, compared to an income tax expense of $8.96 million in the year-ago quarter.

Earlier in the month, the company announced the closure of its cotton linter pulp production line in Brazil and said it was in talks with multiple parties for the potential sale of the facility. Further, it also announced the sale of its non-core Merfin Systems converting business in North Carolina.

“These moves will allow us to redirect cash and management focus from under-performing or non-core businesses into strategic investment and growth opportunities,” Crowe added.

Separately, the company said its board of directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend that was up 17 percent to $0.07 per share, payable on March 15 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on February 15, 2012.

BKI closed Tuesday’s regular trading session at $37.02, up $0.03 or 0.08% on a volume of 0.35 million shares.

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