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MeadWestvaco expects to return $700M to holders

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- MeadWestvaco believes it will return more money to shareholders than it had previously expected, with most of that coming from the packaging company's recent sale of forestland.

In October MeadWestvaco Corp. announced that it was selling its U.S. forestland to Plum Creek Timber Co. for $934 million. The company initially anticipated returning $665 million to shareholders, but now foresees returning $700 million.

MeadWestvaco expects $100 million to $125 million in annual cost savings by 2015's end. It anticipates at least $75 million of the savings coming this year. The company said that the savings are in addition to its previous announcement to reduce overhead by $75 million to $80 million by 2014's end.

The company also anticipates fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations will be in line with analysts' expectations. Analysts surveyed by FactSet predict earnings of 24 cents per share.

Fourth-quarter and full-year financial results will be released on Jan. 29.