Net sales of $171.6 million for the quarter were down 15% compared to the same quarter a year ago, with sales in the Specialty Fibers segment down 18% and sales in the Nonwoven Materials segment only off 2%. Specialty Fibers sales were negatively impacted by reduced demand for cotton specialty fibers, wood specialty fibers used in automotive applications and fluff pulp. Net sales for the quarter were down 7% compared to the October-December quarter, primarily driven by reduced sales from its Memphis cotton cellulose plant.
Year-to-date net sales for 2009 totaled $577.6 million, down from $610.2 million in the same three quarters last year.
Quarterly earnings reached $4.28 million, a substantial drop compared to $10.4 million in the comparable 2008 period. For the nine-month period ending in March 2009, Buckeye saw a loss of $111.8 compared to earnings of $37.8 million in the same period last year.
“While not satisfied with our overall results, we were pleased that underlying earnings improved compared to the October-December quarter in spite of a drop in sales revenue,” commented chairman and CEO John Crowe. “We continued to take market downtime at our Foley, Memphis and Americana plants during the quarter to match production to shipment demand, and effective May 1, we further reduced staffing at our Memphis cotton cellulose plant in order to match capacity to reduced demand levels for products supplied by this plant.”
Mr. Crowe added that, on the average, selling prices were comparable to the preceding quarter, as the impact of the January 1 price increases on the company’s high-end wood specialty fibers products was offset by lower prices for fluff pulp and other products. “We started to see some significant reductions in raw materials, energy and transportation costs during the quarter and we believe that chemical costs peaked during the January-March quarter. Our Nonwoven materials segment also reported higher shipment volumes and improved operating income compared to the October-December quarter.”