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International Paper Earnings Climb, Shares Fall

International Paper said on Thursday its second-quarter profit rose on improved pricing and stable volumes, but earnings fell short of market expectations and pulled the company's shares down 2.7%.

International Paper , the largest U.S. paper and forest products company, said its quarterly results benefited from strong paper sales in Europe and Brazil, but higher raw material prices and lower volumes linked to a mill conversion, did hurt its results.

Excluding items, income from continuing operations rose to 52 cents a share, from 30 cents a share in the year-ago period.

But earnings failed to meet Wall Street's expectations of 55 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

In an interview with CNBC, Faraci also said that he expects third-quarter results to be somewhat better than those of the second quarter.

However, he declined to comment on whether the company would meet Wall Street's earnings expectations of 65 cents a share for the third quarter.

Shares of the company fell $1.05 to $35.84 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

"We were pleased with the quality of IP's second quarter result, which, from an operational standpoint, was in line with our forecast," said JPMorgan analyst Claudia Shank, in a note to clients.

"However, given upward revisions to consensus estimates in the last several weeks, we think some on the Street could have been looking for a stronger result," said Shank.

International Paper has seen product pricing strengthen as consolidation and mill shutdowns across the industry have reduced oversupply in key market segments. The company itself has spun-off non-core assets and focused on restructuring its core paper business.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based company posted quarterly net income of $190 million, or 44 cents per share, compared with $83 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.

The latest quarter net income includes 4 cents per share of restructuring charges, along with 4 cents a share of charges associated with asset impairment charges and discontinued operations.

Quarterly sales fell 7% to $5.29 billion, mainly due to the company's divestiture of its U.S. coated papers business. Analysts, on average, were expecting revenue of $5.31 billion.

"In our view, the North American paper industry is on the verge of a prolonged period of higher profits resulting from continuing efforts to cut capacity and other structural changes," said Morgan Stanley analyst Edings Thibault, in a note to clients.

Postive Outlook

The company said it expects third-quarter results to benefit from containerboard price increases that it plans to implement.

"We anticipate continued operations improvement and cost reduction across our global manufacturing base, as well as lower mill maintenance shutdown expenses in the (third) quarter," Faraci said in a press release.

The company expects third-quarter earnings from land sales to total between $110 million and $140 million.

The company also intends to have a new 'open market' share buyback plan in place shortly, said Faraci, while speaking on a conference call.

International Paper currently has a share buyback plan that expires on Friday.

The company's shares have fallen 8.5% over the last three months, tracking a 11.9% drop in the Standard & Poor's Paper and Forest Products Index.

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