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Will International Paper (IP) Beat Earnings Yet Again in Q1?

Leading packaging and paper manufacturer International Paper Company IP is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results before the opening bell on Apr 27. In the last reported quarter, the company’s adjusted earnings had exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 4 cents. In the trailing four quarters, the company has managed to beat earnings estimates in every quarter with an average positive earnings surprise of 6.19%.

Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors at Play

International Paper is undergoing restructuring initiatives to transform itself into a core packaging company. In Jul 2014, International Paper divested its distribution business, xpedx, and merged it with distribution solution firm Unisource Worldwide, the parent company of UWW Holdings. The merger formed a new publicly traded entity called Veritiv Corporation. International Paper received $400 million in cash and owns a 51% stake in Veritiv, with UWW Holdings owning the rest. This is likely to have a positive impact on the company’s revenues even in the soon-to-be reported quarter.

Alongside, in Mar 2016, the company inked a definitive agreement to divest its corrugated packaging business in China and Southeast Asia. The transaction is likely to be completed in the next couple of months, subject to the fulfilment of mandatory closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Mergers and acquisitions remain a key strategy for International Paper to strengthen its long-term business proposition. The company is taking initiatives to drive further margin expansion over time. The company is also investing more resources in high-return capital projects within its core businesses which can, in turn, accelerate earnings growth. International Paper’s investment strategy involves the adoption of a holistic view of the rapidly evolving market and deploying a dynamic capital allocation approach.

International Paper aims to utilize its cash flow through investment in capital projects, acquisitions, reducing its total debt, and returning a greater proportion of cash to its shareholders through increased dividend payouts and share repurchases. The company is currently focused on debt reduction opportunities in order to improve its balance sheet and reduce the effective cost of debt. The company’s best-in-industry talent pool and expertise are expected to generate optimal and affordable solutions, thus rendering it an edge over its peers.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model shows that International Paper is likely to beat earnings this quarter as it possesses the key components. A stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESPand a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) or #3 (Hold) for this to happen. 

Zacks ESP: The Most Accurate estimate stands at 70 cents, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is at 69 cents. This equates to an ESP of +1.45%.

Zacks Rank: International Paper’s Zacks Rank #3, when combined with a positive ESP, makes us fairly confident of a positive earnings surprise.

Note that we caution against Sell-rated stocks (#4 or #5) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing a negative estimate revisions.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are some other companies that you may want to consider, as our model shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Arch Capital Group Ltd. ACGL, earnings ESP of +1.77% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Boyd Gaming Corporation BYD, earnings ESP of +36.00% and a Zacks Rank #1.

Anixter International Inc. AXE, earnings ESP of +13.58% and a Zacks Rank #2.

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INTL PAPER (IP): Free Stock Analysis Report
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