Consumer buying patterns driven by coronavirus are still reinforcing the results of Clearwater Paper, one of Lewiston’s largest employers.
The business made $ 22.8 million in April, May and June, bringing its net profit in the first half of the year to $ 33.1 million, compared with $ 3.4 million in the first six months of last year, according to the second quarter financial results released Tuesday after the stock market closed.
“Clearwater Paper had an outstanding quarter driven by continued strength in our tissue business, stability in paperboard and excellent operational execution,” said Clearwater Paper President and CEO Arsen Kitch in a conference call Tuesday for stock market analysts.
Their stock rose from $18.77 to $38.25 per share over the past year as Clearwater Paper managed to keep pace with fluctuating demand for its products.
The company makes tissue for toilet paper, paper napkins, paper towels and facial tissue as well as paperboard that is used in packaging and disposable dishware.
According to Kitch, they shipped more than 15.2 million cases of tissue in the first quarter of this year, up 20 percent from the same quarter last year and that was followed by shipping 16 million cases in the second quarter, reflecting sales volumes up 28 percent compared with the second quarter of 2019.
He also said that they believe that the elevated and unpredictable consumer buying patters is being driven by the shift from away-from-home to at-home tissue consumption as many continue to work from home and state and local economies remain partially closed
Clearwater Paper´s demand stabilized in recent weeks at about 10 percent to 15 percent more than the pre-pandemic level and waits to see how this will unfold in coming months.
Kitch mentioned the company´s demand for paperboard as stable.
“Generally our folding carton customers, especially those (that serve the) food and health care (industries) have seen strong demand,” he said. “Our food service customers, especially those (that sell to) quick-service restaurants and away-from-home dining as well as commercial printers have seen weaker demand.”
He also said Clearwater Paper’s new product called NuVo, which was introduced last year, is one of the reasons for the sales volume of paperboard for cups stability. They describe NuVo as a type of paperboard that can be made with as much as 32 percent of recycled materials and has a bright white surface that creates a high-quality blank slate for detailed graphics.
Because of the pandemic, the company´s employees had to face some changes like working at home if possible, wearing face masks for those who work at plants, so Kitch credited them for responding to the new challenges coronavirus has presented and for taking all the precautions the company imposed to slow the spread of the illness.
“We learned what we are capable of doing,” said Michael J. Murphy, Clearwater Paper senior vice president and chief financial officer. “It’s one thing to see it in theory. It’s another thing to see it show up on the bottom line, and that’s what happened in the second quarter.”