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Potlatch’s earnings off sharply

Fri., Oct. 24, 2008

Potlatch Corp. reported third-quarter earnings of $25.3 million on Thursday, down from net earnings of $41 million during the third quarter of 2007.

Sales of toilet paper and other tissue products were a bright spot for the Spokane-based company, officials said. Net earnings in Potlatch’s consumer products division were $10.9 million – more than double last year’s third-quarter earnings for the division.

However, the wood products and pulp and paperboards operations took a hit. Weak markets hampered wood products’ earnings, while the pulp and paperboard earnings were stymied by higher costs for energy, chemicals and wood fiber.

Potlatch’s energy bill rose by $19.4 million this year, compared to the first three quarters of last year.

Real estate sales were solid, the company reported. Potlatch sold nearly 5,200 acres of rural recreational property for about $1,250 an acre.

In other third-quarter events, Potlatch’s board authorized a spinoff of its pulp-based business into a new firm, Clearwater Paper Corp. The spinoff will be finalized before the end of the year.


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