Total sales increased 19.9% to $240 million versus last year's first quarter sales of $202 million. Sales benefited from higher selling prices and increased cotton linter pulp shipment volume.
Comparing the first quarter of fiscal 2012 to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011, sales were down $16 million or 6% lower as the company rebuilt inventories at its Foley mill back to target levels and nonwovens shipment volumes were down.
"We were pleased with our first quarter fiscal 2012 financial results. As we said on our August earnings call, our record fourth quarter revenue of $256 million was going to be hard to duplicate in the first quarter due to very low beginning specialty wood fibers inventory levels. Our first quarter sales revenue of $240 million is our second best quarter ever, and our gross margin of 23.7% of sales was significantly better compared to last year's 18.0%," says chairman and CEO John Crowe. "The key drivers to year over year improvements continue to be strong markets and selling prices, better capacity utilization at our Memphis specialty cotton fibers plant, and benefits from our cost improvement initiatives. We maintained a balanced approach to the allocation of the cash flow generated during the quarter. Our excellent first quarter cash flow generation allowed us to pay a record bonus to all of our employees (reflecting the record FY 2011 performance), invest $11 million in capital projects, repurchase 356,000 shares ($8.6 million) of Buckeye common stock, increase our dividend to six cents per share, and further reduce our debt by $7 million. We expect strong sales, earnings and cash flow trends to continue."