Clearwater Paper Expands with Augusta Acquisition and Reports Strong Financial Results

Arsen Kitch, President and CEO of Clearwater Paper

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Clearwater Paper, a leading provider of consumer tissue, bleached paperboard, and pulp products, has made significant strategic updates with the announcement of its acquisition of Graphic Packaging's Augusta, Georgia bleached paperboard manufacturing facility.

The company also reported robust fourth-quarter and full-year financial results, showcasing its resilience and strategic growth initiatives.

The acquisition of the Augusta facility for $700 million represents a strategic move for Clearwater Paper, enhancing its capacity and positioning in the North American paperboard market. With an annual capacity of approximately 600 thousand tons of bleached paperboard, this acquisition is poised to bolster Clearwater Paper's capabilities, driving growth and enabling the company to better serve its customers. Clearwater Paper anticipates substantial benefits from the acquisition, including $140-150 million in Adjusted EBITDA annually by the end of 2026, driven by volume and cost synergies.

Arsen Kitch, President and CEO of Clearwater Paper, expressed confidence in the strategic fit of the Augusta acquisition, emphasizing its role in expanding the company's scale and growth capacity. He highlighted the long-term prospects for paperboard, citing consumer demand for sustainable packaging solutions. By strategically positioning Clearwater Paper as a premier, independent supplier of paperboard, the acquisition aligns with the company's commitment to meeting evolving market needs.

In conjunction with the Augusta acquisition, Clearwater Paper announced its intention to explore strategic options for its tissue business, signaling a focus on driving growth in paperboard operations. This strategic realignment underscores Clearwater Paper's commitment to optimizing its portfolio and capitalizing on opportunities in high-growth segments of the paper industry.

The company's strong financial performance for the fourth quarter and full year of 2023 further underscores its operational resilience and effective execution of strategic priorities. Despite a 3% decrease in net sales for the fourth quarter compared to the previous year, Clearwater Paper reported a significant improvement in net income, transitioning from a loss in the fourth quarter of 2022 to a profit in 2023. Adjusted net income and Adjusted EBITDA also demonstrated substantial growth, reflecting the company's focus on operational efficiency and cash flow generation.

For the full year 2023, Clearwater Paper maintained flat net sales compared to the previous year, yet achieved notable increases in net income, adjusted net income, and Adjusted EBITDA. The company's proactive approach to managing costs, optimizing production, and driving operational excellence contributed to its solid financial performance despite market challenges.

Arsen Kitch emphasized Clearwater Paper's commitment to delivering value for shareholders while maintaining a strong financial position. The reduction of net debt by over $450 million since 2020 underscores the company's disciplined approach to capital allocation and financial management.

In summary, Clearwater Paper's strategic updates, including the Augusta acquisition and strong financial results, underscore its commitment to driving long-term growth and value creation. By capitalizing on market opportunities, optimizing its portfolio, and maintaining operational excellence, Clearwater Paper is well-positioned to navigate evolving market dynamics and deliver sustainable value for its stakeholders.