Sappi posts profitable Q4 but 2004 slows


Sappi, a leading producer of coated fine paper, has posted a profitable Q4 amid dim views for fiscal 2005.

The Johannesburg-based company reported sales of $1.235 billion for the quarter, up from $1.123 billion in Q4 of 2003.

Its Q4 operating profit rose to $72 million from $17 million in the same period last year. Earnings were helped by a tax credit of $0.06 per share and a gain of $0.04 per share for an accounting change, the company said.

However, operating profit for the year declined from $272 million in 2003 to $188 million in 2004.

The company warned that figures for its Q1 would likely show a loss as a result of rising energy and raw material costs, down time at its mills due to maintenance, and a new South African accounting standard.

Johannesburg (RSA)