International Paper reports strong second quarter earnings

International Paper's Cedar River Mill plant in southwest Cedar Rapids. IMAGE VIA INTERNATIONAL PAPER

International Paper reported second quarter earnings Thursday, topping analysts’ estimates in most categories.

The company, which operates a corrugated packaging facility in northeast Cedar Rapids and a paper mill in southwest Cedar Rapids, reported net earnings of $432 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, for the quarter ending June 30. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.05 per share.

The earnings were up from $349 million, or $0.88 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2021 and $266 million, or $0.67 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2020.

Net sales for the quarter came in at $5.62 billion, up just slightly from analysts’ estimates of $5.6 billion.

“International Paper delivered solid earnings growth and strong cash generation in the second quarter,” company chairman and CEO Mark Sutton said. “Commercially, we achieved strong revenue growth while executing well in a very challenging supply chain and input cost environment. Looking ahead to the third quarter, we expect demand to remain strong and margins to expand meaningfully as realization of prior price movements outpaces input and transportation costs, and we step down from our highest maintenance outage quarter.

“We continue to make excellent progress on the spin-off of our papers business, which we expect to complete on Oct. 1,” Mr. Sutton added. “Our team is doing an outstanding job managing complexity. I appreciate their commitment to execute well and take care of each other and our customers as we work together to build a better IP.”

International Paper shares are up 10% from the beginning of the year, but still down more than 10% from their 52-week high of $65.27, set on June 4, reported. They are underperforming the Nasdaq 100, which is up just over 16% from the start of the year.