June 29 (Reuters) - Shares of International Paper may increase about 40 percent in the next 12 months on an improving global economy and use of its cash for stock buyback and higher dividend, Barron’s said in its latest edition published on Sunday.
The biggest North American producer of corrugated shipping boxes, based in Memphis, Tennessee, had seen its stock hurt from weak box demand earlier this year. It also took a $495 million charge in the first quarter for the closure of its Courtland, Alabama mill.
IP Chief Executive Officer John Faraci has said the company’s business is regaining its stride.
Sales of its industrial-packaging business rose 3 percent year-over-year in April, the strongest such gain in over three years, Barron’s said.
“The combination of improving fundamentals and the return of cash to shareholders should translate into a higher stock valuation and outstanding total return for shareholders,” the financial weekly said.
Faraci told Barron’s there is potential to increase IP’s per-share dividend to between $1.80 to $2.00 from the current $1.40.
Barron’s cited some Wall Street analysts who projected IP shares rising in the next 12 months to $66 to $70 a share, as much as 43 percent above current levels.
On Friday, IP stock closed at $49.05, which was at the high end of its 52-week range. (Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Paul Simao)