“We are off to a strong start in 2012 with solid performance from all three of our businesses,” says Dante Parrini, chairman and CEO. “Specialty Papers delivered a 7% increase in operating income led by improved operating performance, new business development and continuous improvement initiatives. Our Advanced Airlaid Materials business continues to demonstrate progress with operating income more than doubling on a year-over-year basis and Composite Fibers also made good progress despite decreased production rates this quarter from two machine upgrades. As expected, both of these businesses experienced softer conditions in certain consumer-driven European market segments. Furthermore, our 2011 share repurchase program and the debt refinancing activities undertaken late last year are contributing to year-over-year earnings-per-share growth.”
The company’s airlaid nonwovens business reported that sales were essentially flat at $61 million with volumes increasing nearly 4% to 22,348 tons. First quarter operating income increase $2.1 million, led by a $1.5 million benefit from continuous improvement initiatives including supply chain, waste reduction, improved throughputs and benefits from a new festooner.
The company expects shipping volumes for the Advanced Airlaid Materials business unit to be in-line with the first quarter of 2012 during the second quarter. Input cost increases are expected to outpace selling price changes due to the pass-through provisions in certain customer contracts but the company expects this to be more than offset by the impact of its continuous improvement initiatives.