International Paper Co., the world’s largest maker of forest products, said it swung to a first-quarter net profit, but higher energy costs and only a modest rise in sales pressured the bottom line.
The forest products industry has suffered from a downturn for more than two years due to a lackluster global economy. During that time, International Paper has sold more than $3 billion in assets to counter falling prices and lagging demand for paper, packaging and building products. The first-quarter net income of $44 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $1.1 billion, or $2.31 a share, last year. Sales were up 1.6 percent at $6.1 billion.
Earnings from its printing papers unit were much higher than the year earlier quarter. However, International Paper’s industrial and consumer packaging , distribution and forest products unit all reported earnings lower than last year’s.