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Boise Cascade will cut 700 jobs in wake of loss

BOISE — Forest products maker Boise Cascade Corp. expects to post a bigger loss than Wall Street expected in the first quarter and will cut 700 jobs, or 2.9 percent of its work force, due to a combination of the sluggish economy and high pension and energy costs.

Chairman George Harad said Monday the company expects a loss of between 28 and 38 cents a share for the January-March period. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call anticipated a loss of 7 cents a share.

Boise Cascade makes paper, office products and building supplies.

"Continued weak markets and global political uncertainty make the timing of any sustained recovery in our business very unclear," Harad said in a statement. "Going forward, we will carefully monitor our situation. If we have to take further steps to conserve cash and improve operating income, we will."

Less than seven weeks ago, Harad had anticipated 2003 would be stronger than last year assuming the U.S. economy continued to grow.

Boise Cascade shares were down $1.01, or 4.4 percent, at $21.76 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

In addition to cutting jobs from its global work force of about 24,000 people, the company is also freezing salaries, restricting hiring, cutting operating costs by $45 million and holding capital expenditures to $245 million during 2003. Discretionary spending will be reduced at all levels.

Boise Cascade spokesman Ralph Poore said the layoffs will occur throughout the corporation this month and next.