Verso Paper losses continue in Q1

Verso Paper said it lost $73.9 million in the first quarter, according to a statement released Monday.

That was compared to a loss of $44.5 million in the same period a year ago.

Verso operates mills in Bucksport and Jay, employing 775 and 900, respectively, at the facilities.

The Verso paper mill in Bucksport (BDN FILE PHOTO)


Verso said Monday that its net sales for the first quarter dropped $41.3 million, or 9.9 percent. Typically, the company noted, the first quarter is a seasonally slow quarter due to lower demand for coated paper. However, prior year results were positively impacted by unusually high sales volume for coated papers in March of 2011, Verso said.

The company said that the decline in sales volume for the first quarter was also impacted by the permanent shutdown of three paper machines in the fourth quarter of 2011.

In October 2011, Verso announced plans to eliminate 125 positions at the Bucksport mill in Maine and to permanently shut down one of the mill’s paper machines in response to high production costs and weak demand for lightweight paper. The company also shut two machines at a mill in Minnesota.

Mike Jackson, president and CEO of Verso, said pulp prices were almost $90 per ton below 2011 levels.

“Having said that, we anticipate both pulp and paper prices will gain positive momentum as we move into the latter part of the second quarter and continuing into the busier second half of the year,” said Jackson. “We have announced price increases for our paper products, and there have already been three pulp price increase announcements made over the last few months. We also should see more moderate input price impact going forward.”

Verso trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol VRS.