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Clearwater Paper reports solid fourth quarter

Lewiston wood and paper products maker Clearwater Paper Corp. on Feb. 18 reported net earnings of $47.2 million, or $4.01 per diluted common share, for the Dec. 31 quarter compared to $1.7 million, or 15 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Excluding $47.1 million of pre-tax income from alternative fuel mixture tax credits, earnings for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $17.4 million or $1.48 per diluted common share.

“Results for the fourth quarter were once again very strong, driven primarily by our Consumer Products business and continued solid performance in our Pulp and Paperboard segment,” President and CEO Gordon Jones said in a release. “We are also moving forward with the expansion of our tissue business, by building additional converting capacity on the East Coast.”

Spokane-based Clearwater Paper said that as part of its growth strategy, the company plans to invest in the Consumer Products business to expand its geographic scope to serve existing and new customers on the East Coast and increase capacity to produce ultra-quality tissue. The first phase of this growth will be construction of a new converting facility in the Southeast, expected to run both conventional and TAD paper, Clearwater said. The East Coast converting facility is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2011 for about $30 million.

Consumer Products posted higher operating income and net sales in the fourth quarter of 2009. Pulp and Paperboard also reported gains. Wood Products reported a loss that was lower than losses in previous and year-earlier quarters.

The recent quarter is the fourth during which Clearwater reported as a standalone company. It was spun off from Spokane-based Potlatch Corp. in December 2008. Potlatch is a major owner and manager of timberlands in Idaho.

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