Catalyst Paper recorded adjusted EBITDA of $25.7 million for Q1 2014 compared to $19.1 million in Q4 2013. Results reflect predominantly a weaker Canadian dollar, as well as higher pulp prices and improved production, according to the company. Production volumes were more than 2% higher than the prior year average. Sales of $273.9 million were negatively impacted by 8,000 tonnes of paper that were not shipped in the quarter due to the extended container truck driver strike at Port Metro Vancouver.
Free cash flow improved by $5.7 million over the previous quarter to $11.6 million. Liquidity improved by $15.6 million to $138.2 million, net of restricted cash.
“We are starting to see the positive impact of cost control, improved safety and productivity in our operations,” said Catalyst president and CEO Joe Nemeth. “While the domestic paper market remains challenging, we continue to grow our market share in freight-logical, niche markets for coated mechanical and lightweight newsprint. Pulp markets are holding steady and as long as we keep up the strides we are making in productivity and cost control, we are well-positioned for the future.”
North American paper demand fell in all the grades that the company supplies, a combination of secular declines as well as publishers and retailers entering the seasonally slower time of the year, Catalyst reports. Benchmark prices for its specialty papers declined slightly, while newsprint remained flat.
For NBSK pulp, the benchmark price increased $16 per metric tonne as supply and demand conditions continued to be positive.