In the Packaging segment, total corrugated products shipments with one additional workday were up 10.7% and shipments per day were up 8.9% over last year’s first quarter. Containerboard production was 932,000 tons, and containerboard inventory was down 16,000 tons compared to year end 2016 and 12,000 tons below the first quarter of 2016.
Commenting on the quarter, Mark W. Kowlzan, chairman and CEO, said, “Our results were driven by strong demand and higher prices for containerboard and corrugated products as well as from the benefits of our recent TimBar and Columbus Container acquisitions. We continued to implement our announced containerboard and corrugated products price increases throughout the quarter, which helped us offset higher inflation in many of our manufacturing and converting costs and higher freight costs. The integration of our recent corrugated plant acquisitions has gone very well and is ahead of schedule, and our containerboard inventory levels were below those of a year ago and year-end levels despite the additional containerboard inventory requirements of our acquisitions.
“Looking ahead to the second quarter,” Kowlzan added, “we expect to continue implementing our previously announced packaging segment price increases, and we expect higher corrugated products shipments resulting from strong demand and our two recent acquisitions. Mill maintenance outage costs will be higher as we have scheduled outages at our three largest containerboard mills. We expect flat paper volumes although price and mix should move lower. We also anticipate continued price inflation in recycled fiber, certain chemicals and freight costs, but our energy costs should improve as we move into seasonally milder weather. Considering these items, we expect second quarter earnings of $1.45 per share. This does not include any potential additional costs or anticipated recoveries related to the DeRidder Mill insurance claim.”