U.S. Markets closed

International Paper 4Q profit drops 16 percent

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- International Paper Inc. said Tuesday that it fourth-quarter net income fell 16 percent as prices dropped in two of its divisions and some costs rose.

Net income fell to $235 million, or 53 cents per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31. That compares with $281 million, or 65 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

Minus costs stemming from its $3.51 billion acquisition of rival Temple-Inland last year and other special items, International Paper said it earned 69 cents per share. That was higher than the 65 cents per share Wall Street analysts expected, according to research firm FactSet.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based company said that revenue in the fourth quarter rose 11 percent to $7.08 billion from $6.37 billion. Analysts expected $6.94 billion.

Operating profit in the printing papers business fell 27 percent to $147 million, while profit in the consumer packaging unit fell 39 percent to $41 million. The company said maintenance expenses rose and average prices for paper and packaging products were lower.

But operating profit at its industrial packaging unit jumped 32 percent to $336 million on higher prices in North America, higher sales from Europe and an insurance settlement related to an earthquake in Italy. Higher maintenance costs and materials costs weighed on profit growth, however.

The company also benefited from a lower-than-expected tax rate, said Citi analyst Anthony Pettinari.

For the full year 2012, the company said it earned $794 million, or $1.80 per share, down from $1.3 billion or $3.03 per share.

Shares of the company slipped 20 cents to $41.92 in afternoon trading Tuesday.