14 August 2009
Mills mired in losses for second quarter
NATIONAL—The second quarter brought mostly bad news for paper mills that operate in Canada, with net losses posted by AbitibiBowater (US$510 million), Catalyst Paper (-$1.9 million), Fraser Papers (-$8 million), New Page (-US$6 million) and Tembec (-$38 million) for the period ending June 30.

Catalyst and Fraser actually had improved performances over the same period last year, but Catalyst president and CEO Richard Garneau summed up the widespread pessimism, stating, "We are seeing a deep cyclical downturn in our industry as well as demand shifts and structural changes that will have a lasting impact on our business model," in a release.

There were, however, a few sweet notes. Montreal-based Domtar reported net earnings of US$48 million, doubling last year’s US$24 million profits.

“From the first quarter, shipments edged higher in paper, pulp and wood businesses with demand for our paper products stabilizing and costs for materials declining," John Williams, Domtar's president and chief executive officer, told analysts.

Cascades Inc. also posted a profit of $30 million, compared to a $25 million loss in the same period last year, though revenue was down $18 million in the quarter.

 "Our results have shown significant progress since the trough experienced in the first half of 2008," Alain Lemaire, chief executive of Cascades, said in the release. "Results improved in all our sectors as we benefited from a favourable variable cost environment."

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