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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sale boosts Potlatch earnings

The Spokesman-Review

The sale of its oriented strand board plants in Minnesota helped Potlatch Corp. post earnings of $271 million in 2004.

The company’s continuing operations reported earnings of $15.3 million, or 52 cents per share, for the year, compared with a loss of $3.8 million, or 13 cents per share, in 2003.

Spokane-based Potlatch posted a fourth-quarter loss of $9.7 million, largely related to a one-time cost of $25 million associated with the early repayment of $282 million in debts.

The $455 million sale of the OSB plants helped Potlatch reduce its high-interest debt, which has been a company priority, said Penn Siegel, company chairman. Money from the sale also went into a special dividend for stockholders, and a stock repurchase program.

During the fourth quarter, higher prices for lumber and particleboard contributed to earnings of $6.4 million in the company’s wood products division. However, the higher particleboard prices were offset by a 27 percent decline in shipments from the company’s Post Falls plant. Workers there took two weeks of downtime due to excess inventories.

Higher shipments and sales of paperboard and pulp during the fourth quarter also strengthened Potlatch’s bottom line.

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