Travis Hale does a great job of keeping our industry statistics up to date. As I was reviewing his material for this issue, it struck me that, although it always gives an excellent snapshot of the condition of the pulp and paper industry, this issue's material in particular was quite telling.
First, if you look at the PM40, you will find it is now at 1673.89. It reached a low of roughly 400 in March a year ago. Its all time high was around 1900 in late spring 2007. The pulp and paper industry has regained its strength as fast or faster than most of the rest of the economy.
But, of course, there are some troubled spots. You are familiar with them: they are grades of paper that involve printing for the purposes of communication. Again, in Travis's work, this issue's "Disconnected Comparisons" happens to point this out. Neenah Paper, Inc. (NP) and Sappi Limited (SPP) are the focus. Quoting directly from "Disconnected Comparisons": "A USD 100 investment in NP on 04 January 2002 would have been worth USD 58.22 on 26 March 2009; a USD 100 investment in SPP on 04 January 2002 would have been worth USD 39.64 on 26 March 2009; and a USD 100 investment in the PM40 on 04 January 2002 would have been worth USD 167.39 on 26 March 2009."
The state of the industry in a nutshell -- overall the industry is doing very, very well. As we all know, the struggle is in the printing and writing grades.