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Clearwater Paper (CLW) Hits 52-Week High: What's Aiding It?

Shares of Clearwater Paper CLW scaled a new 52-week high of $46.48 on Aug 16, before closing the session a tad lower at $45.74.

CLW has a market capitalization of around $713 million and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), currently. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Over the past year, the CLW stock has gained 44.8% against the 16.1% decline of the industry. The S&P 500 composite has declined 4.4% in the same time frame.


Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

What’s Driving Clearwater Paper?

Clearwater Paper delivered improved performances in both quarters of 2022, aided by strong operational execution and improved pricing in both businesses. Its paperboard business continues to witness strong demand and pricing, while tissue volumes are rising on stronger consumer demand for private branded products. Paperboard sales volumes were up 2% year over year to 417,259 tons in the first six months of 2022, while Paperboard’s average net selling price surged 25% to $1,299 per ton. Retail tissue volumes sold were 152,030 tons in the first six months of 2022, up 25% from the comparable period’s level in the previous year. Retail tissue selling prices improved 8% to 2,928 per ton.

Backed by this, Clearwater Paper reported net sales of $1 billion in the first six-month period of 2022. The top-line figure marked a 22% increase year over year.  In the first six months of 2022, CLW reported an adjusted net income of $36 million, a turnaround performance from the adjusted net loss of $6 million reported in the prior year comparable period. For the period under discussion, earnings per share were $2.13 against a loss of 37 cents in the first half of 2021.

Despite the persisting inflationary pressures, CLW could negate the impact on margins with operational improvements and pricing. Its focus on cash flow generation has enabled it to cut down its debt levels by nearly $100 million year to date and achieve its leverage target.

Earnings estimates for Clearwater Paper have also been going up over the past month. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 bottom line has increased around 14% and the same for 2023 has moved up 49%. The consensus estimate for third-quarter 2022 earnings has also been revised 31% upward over the same time frame. The favorable estimate revisions instill investor confidence in the stock.

Other Stocks to Consider

Some other top-ranked stocks in the basic materials space are ATI Inc. ATI, Albemarle Corporation ALB and Ashland Global Holdings Inc. ASH.

ATI, currently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), has a projected earnings growth rate of 1,069.2% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for ATI's current-year earnings has been revised 12.5% upward in the past 60 days.

ATI’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the last four quarters. It has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 128.9%, on average. The stock has surged 71% in a year.

Albemarle has a projected earnings growth rate of 247% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for ALB’s current-year earnings has been revised 7.8% upward in the past 60 days.

Albemarle’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing four quarters, the average being 20%. ALB has gained roughly 30% in a year and has a Zacks Rank of 1 at present.

Ashland, currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), has a projected earnings growth rate of 50.9% for fiscal 2022. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for ASH’s fiscal 2022 earnings has been revised 10.5% upward in the past 60 days.

ASH’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters and missed the same once. Ashland has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 1.82%, on average. Its shares have been up around 27% in a year.
 


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ATI Inc. (ATI): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Ashland Inc. (ASH): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Albemarle Corporation (ALB): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Clearwater Paper Corporation (CLW): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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