SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazilian pulpmaker Suzano reported on Thursday a net loss of 729 million reais ($146.2 million) in the third quarter, but beating a LSEG analyst estimate of red ink reaching 1.5 billion reais during the period.
The company's quarterly loss contrasts with the net profit of 5.45 billion reais Suzano achieved in the year-ago period.
Sales of pulp, Suzano's main business, fell by 11% year-on-year, while average prices for the product dropped by a third to settle at $547 per metric ton.
Despite the drop, analysts at JPMorgan highlighted the firm's prices for the quarter, with both pulp and paper landing 5.7% and 6.2% ahead of their expectations, respectively.
"In both segments we saw volumes pretty much in line with our expectations, but prices were really the reason for the beat," they said in a note to clients.
Suzano mentioned that the July-to-September period showed an "improvement in market sentiment" largely due to more demand from China.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 57% from the previous year, to 3.7 billion reais.
Suzano also announced investments of 1.66 billion reais ($234.64 million) in three new projects. The company will build a tissue paper plant and a biomass-fired boiler in Espirito Santo state, in addition to converting a machine in a plant in Sao Paulo.
The new plant will have a production capacity of 60,000 metric tons per year, while the machine conversion in Sao Paulo will boost its pulp fluff output by 100,000 tons in 2025.
($1 = 4.9863 reais)
(Reporting by Peter Frontini and Alberto Alerigi Jr.; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Diane Craft)