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Smurfit-Stone Reports 4th Quarter EPS of $.20, Excluding Asset Sale

CHICAGO, January 24, 2000 – Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation (Nasdaq: SSCC) today reported net income of $286 million, or $1.28 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 1999, compared to a loss of $214 million, or $1.33 per diluted share, in the same period a year ago. The company earned $.20 per share from continuing operations, excluding an after-tax gain of $245 million resulting from the divestiture of non-core assets. Sales for the period were $1.9 billion, compared to $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 1998.

For the full year 1999, the company reported net income of $157 million, or $.71 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $200 million, or $1.61 per diluted share, in 1998. The 1999 results included an after-tax gain on the sale of non-core assets of $268 million, or $1.22 per diluted share. Sales for the full year were $7.2 billion compared to $3.5 billion in 1998.

Smurfit-Stone's 1998 results include the results of Jefferson Smurfit Corporation (JSC), the predecessor of SSCC, for the full year, and the results of Stone Container from the date of the merger with JSC through the end of the year.

Ray Curran, president and chief executive officer, noted that the fourth quarter was the first profitable quarter since Smurfit-Stone was established. "The results reflect the company's year-long focus on achieving synergies, divesting assets and reducing debt and interest expense. This effort has lowered the company's break-even point at a time of improving demand and prices for corrugated containers and other packaging products and market pulp," Curran said.

The company completed two major asset sales during the quarter: its Southeastern U.S. timberlands and the Newberg, OR, newsprint mill. The proceeds of these sales and refinancing activities enabled the company to reduce debt by $1.1 billion to about $4.8 billion at year-end, Curran said.

Commenting on the full year, Curran said, "Our goals in 1999 were to reduce financial risk, settle major outstanding litigation, refocus the company on its core packaging business and integrate the major packaging operations. We met our expectations in all these areas. We achieved 90 percent of our asset divestiture target by November, enabling us to reduce debt by $1.8 billion for the year. We eliminated overlapping activities and continued the rationalization of our converting operations, enabling us to further streamline our business." In addition, the company exited several non-strategic joint ventures during the year.

"The impact of the 1999 initiatives," Curran said, "has left us with a substantially strengthened company. We can now focus attention equally on customer satisfaction, operational excellence and financial discipline. We will continue the integration of our container and containerboard system and work to achieve full potential in all of our businesses.

"Domestic demand for packaging continues to be healthy, and we are experiencing a pick-up in demand in export markets for containerboard," he concluded.

Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation was formed on November 18, 1998 as a result of the merger of Jefferson Smurfit Corporation and Stone Container Corporation. The company is the industry's leading manufacturer of paper and paperboard-based packaging, including containerboard, corrugated containers, industrial bags, and claycoated recycled boxboard; and is the world's largest paper recycler. In addition, Smurfit-Stone is a leading producer of solid bleached sulfate, folding cartons, paper tubes and cores, and labels. The company operates about 300 facilities worldwide and employs approximately 35,000.

Archived Conference Calls. Currently online: Q4 Earnings Release 01/2000.
Section 1: Introduction (1 min. 26 sec.)
Section 2: Business Overview (4 min .28 sec.)
Section 3: Finanical Overview (6 min. 33 sec.)
Section 4: Q & A (49 min. 33 sec.)
Entire event: 2000 Q4 Earnings Conference Call (62 min.)

Adobe® Acrobat® version of the Consolidated Statements of Operations and Supplementary Financial Information (48k) 

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This document contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21 E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, about Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation. Although the company believes that, in making any such statements, its expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, any such statement may be influenced by factors that could cause actual outcomes and results to be materially different from those projected. When used in this document, the words "anticipates," "believes," "expects," "intends," and similar expressions as they relate to Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation or its management are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements, certain of which are beyond the control of Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation, include: the impact of general economic conditions in the U.S. and Canada and in other countries in which Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation and its subsidiaries currently do business (including Asia, Europe and Latin and South America); industry conditions, including competition and product and raw material prices; fluctuations in exchange rates and currency values; capital expenditure requirements; legislative or regulatory requirements, particularly concerning environmental matters; interest rates; access to capital markets; the timing of and value received in connection with asset divestitures; and obtaining required approvals, if any, of debt holders. The actual results, performance or achievement by Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation could differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, these forward-looking statements and, accordingly, no assurances can be given that any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur, or if any of them do so, what impact they will have on the results of operations and financial condition of Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation.