International Paper has registered net sales of $5.02bn in the first quarter (Q1) of fiscal year (FY) 2023, compared to $5.23bn in Q1 FY22.

The company’s net earnings (loss) for the quarter, which ended on 31 March 2023, was $172m or $0.49 per diluted share. In Q1 FY22 loss was $360m or $0.95 per diluted share.

The packaging, pulp and fibre-based products manufacturer said its adjusted operating earnings (non-GAAP) for Q1 FY23 was $185m or $0.53 per diluted share.

The company’s free cash flow for Q1 FY23 totalled $4m and included the final payment of $193m made to the IRS for the timber-monetisation restructuring settlement.

Furthermore, cash from operations during the reported quarter was $345m.

According to International Paper, it focused on building a better intellectual property (IP) strategy, which delivered around $65m of incremental year-over-year earnings during Q1 FY23.

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In this quarter, the company was able to return $319m to its shareholders via $157m in share repurchases and $162m in dividends.

International Paper’s board chair and CEO Mark Sutton said: “International Paper operated well in the first quarter, while navigating a challenging and dynamic macro-environment.

“We successfully executed our highest maintenance outage quarter and realised additional benefits from our Building Better IP initiatives and lower input costs.”

The company’s Industrial Packaging segment made the highest contribution to the consolidated net sales. The segment’s net sales were $4.83bn in Q1 FY23, compared to $4.406bn in Q1 FY22.

The operating profits of this segment decreased from $397m in Q1 FY22 to $322m in Q1 FY23.

The company said earnings decreased during this period, specifically in North America, due to the lower input costs of recovered fibre and energy. It can also be attributed to higher planned maintenance outage expenses and higher operating costs. 

Sutton added: “Looking ahead we expect the demand-environment to improve throughout the year as customer inventory destocking runs its course. 

“We remain focused on serving our customers’ needs, while optimising our system to drive out high marginal costs and maximising value for our stakeholders.”