Sappi, the world's largest maker of fine paper used in glossy magazines, said diluted headline earnings per share totalled 7 U.S. cents in the quarter to end-March from 10 U.S cents a year earlier.
Headline EPS, which exclude certain one-off and non-trading items, is the main profit gauge in South Africa.
The global paper industry is struggling to recover from a slump caused by sluggish demand and over capacity as major consumers in Europe grapple with recession.
But Sappi is turning its focus to higher margin businesses such as specialised cellulose to boost its earnings.
The company, also the world's top producer of chemical cellulose, is currently working on boosting its capacity of the product to more than 1.3 million tonnes a year.
Sappi produces chemical cellulose from its own woods for conversion into raw materials for clothing, plastics, food and pharmaceutical products.