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International Paper Shows Promise with Portfolio Reshuffle

On Apr 11, Zacks Investment Research updated the research report on paper and packaging products manufacturer International Paper Company IP.

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 VRTV. International Paper received $400 million in cash and owns 51% stake in Veritiv, with UWW Holdings owning the rest.

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 the mandatory closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

The assets will be sold to Xiamen Bridge Hexing Equity Investment Partnership Enterprise, which specializes in packaging and related industries, for approximately RMB 1 billion (approximately $150 million). The held-for-sale asset portfolio includes 18 manufacturing plants with employee strength of roughly 3,000.

Mergers and acquisitions form another key strategy for the company to strengthen its long-term business proposition. In North America, the company envisions a large opportunity within its industrial packaging businesses, which continue to generate the best margins in the industry. The company is taking initiatives to drive further margin expansion over time across these businesses.

International Paper aims to utilize its sound cash flow by investing in capital projects, reducing its total debt and returning a greater proportion of cash to shareholders through increased dividend payouts and share repurchases. The company expects to grow its EBITDA by approximately 5% in the near future by executing its operational plans. The company's restructuring initiatives and operational strategies bode well for its near-term growth prospects.

International Paper currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). A couple of equally ranked stocks in the industry include Sappi Limited SPPJY and Mercer International Inc. MERC.

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INTL PAPER (IP): Free Stock Analysis Report
VERITIV CORP (VRTV): Free Stock Analysis Report
SAPPI LTD -ADR (SPPJY): Free Stock Analysis Report
MERCER INTL SBI (MERC): Free Stock Analysis Report
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