Mercer International Inc. Reports Strong 2017 Third Quarter Results

Selected Highlights
* Record quarterly pulp production and energy sales volumes;
* Higher pulp prices, sales realizations and sales volumes contribute to stronger current quarter net income of $21.1 million and Operating EBITDA* of $64.0 million;
* Friesau sawmill performing ahead of plan; and
* Quarterly cash dividend increased 9% to $0.125.

Mercer International Inc. (Nasdaq: MERC, TSX: MERC.U) today reported strong results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2017 as Operating EBITDA* increased by 34% to $64.0 million from $47.9 million in the same quarter of 2016 and by 64% from $39.1 million in the prior quarter.

In the current quarter, net income increased to $21.1 million, or $0.33 per basic and $0.32 per diluted share, compared to net income of $11.9 million, or $0.18 per basic and diluted share, in the comparative quarter and a net loss of $2.1 million in the prior quarter.

Mr. David M. Gandossi, the Chief Executive Officer, stated: “In the third quarter of 2017, pulp prices in Europe and North America increased as a result of continued steady demand and were generally flat in China compared to the prior quarter of 2017. Overall our average pulp sales realizations were approximately 2% higher in the third quarter of 2017 compared to the prior quarter of 2017. ”

He added: “Late in the third quarter of 2017, prices increased in China as a result of strong demand and a sharp reduction in China’s imports of recovered or waste paper. Such reduction resulted from a major environmental policy shift announced by China in the third quarter of 2017 to reduce and phase out imports of solid waste and scraps, including recovered or waste paper.”

Mr. Gandossi continued: “At the end of the current quarter, list prices in Europe, China and North America were approximately $920, $710 and $1,130 per ADMT, respectively. In October 2017, we announced list price increases of $90 and $40 per ADMT in China and Europe, respectively. However, we cannot assure that such increases will be fully implemented and, as prices are cyclical, that they will not decline in the future.

Currently, the NBSK pulp market is balanced with world producer inventories at about 29 days’ supply.”

Mr. Gandossi continued: “We are pleased with the ramp up of the Friesau Facility which produced 109.6 million board feet of lumber in the current quarter compared to 67.5 million board feet of lumber in the prior quarter of 2017 and generated operating income of $3.0 million. Average lumber sales realizations increased by approximately 14% to $375 per Mfbm from $328 per Mfbm in the prior quarter. Approximately 10% of the Friesau Facility’s lumber sales volumes were to the U.S. market and substantially all of the rest were to Europe. Currently both the European and U.S. lumber markets are strong and prices are near multi-year highs and are expected to remain steady in the near term.”

He added: “Looking forward, we believe the new pulp production capacity that has or is coming on line will not have a material negative impact on the market in 2017 as a result of steady demand growth and diminishing supply and quality of recycled fiber. Further, some of the new capacity will not hit the market in a meaningful amount until 2018. As a result, we currently expect overall steady pulp demand in the near term.”

Mr. Gandossi concluded: “Going forward, we have only three days of scheduled annual maintenance downtime at our Stendal mill in the fourth quarter of 2017. With our major annual maintenance downtime completed, balanced pulp markets, strengthening pulp prices and the continuing ramp up of the Friesau Facility, we are well positioned for a strong fourth quarter of 2017.”
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