International Paper Adding to Its Package

It'll be a big deal, as forest products industry transactions go. Apparently, International Paper (NYSE: IP  ) will shell out about $6 billion in cash to Weyerhaeuser (NYSE: WY  ) in exchange for the latter's packaging, containerboard, and recycling businesses.

But since the buyer will realize an estimated $1.4 billion income tax benefit from the deal, the company's net outlay for the acquired assets actually will be closer to $4.6 billion. The transaction will likely close by the third quarter of the year.

Weyerhaeuser has been trimming ancillary businesses of late, attempting to concentrate on its wood products, real estate, and homebuilding core. In 2007, for instance, it sold its fine paper business to Canada's Domtar (NYSE: UFS  ) .

And for its part, International Paper has also undergone a substantial makeover. Three years ago, the company began selling its wood products, timberlands, and coated paper business. In the process, it slashed its net debt by almost two thirds. It is now concentrating on packaging and uncoated paper. Through its deal with Weyerhaeuser, the company will roughly double the amount of revenue generated from packaging.

I'm inclined to keep an especially close eye on International Paper. Before taking into account the effects of the newly announced transaction, the company sports a reasonable valuation, expected double-digit per-share earnings growth over the next two years, and a 3.5% forward dividend yield.

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