Ainsworth improves safety performance
May 2, 2014, Vancouver - Ainsworth Lumber announced a 60 per cent improvement in safety results quarter over quarter in its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2014. The company also said it generated adjusted EBITDA of $10.2 million notwithstanding logistical issues and weaker North American markets.
Ainsworth President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Lake said, "Ainsworth had a challenging quarter as transportation issues and extreme weather impacted OSB shipments and demand. North American OSB prices were nearly 50% or U.S.$200/msf lower than the first quarter of 2013. Despite the recent weaker pricing, we believe that the outlook remains positive with further anticipated recovery of the U.S. housing market in 2014 as we move past the worst of the weather issues. We continue to see steady growth in our well-established export market of Japan as well as other markets such as China. From an operational perspective, I am pleased to report a significant improvement in our safety performance this quarter."
LP Acquisition of Ainsworth
On September 4, 2013, the company entered into an agreement with Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) under which LP will acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Ainsworth for $1.94 in cash plus 0.114 LP common shares per each Ainsworth common share, on a fully pro-rated basis. The transaction remains subject to obtaining regulatory approvals and the satisfaction or waiver of other conditions pursuant to the Arrangement Agreement. On April 18, 2014, the outside date for completion of the transaction was extended to June 2, 2014. The Arrangement Agreement permits either party to further extend the outside date for an additional 45-day period if required to obtain certain regulatory approvals. Both Ainsworth and LP continue to work with the Canadian Competition Bureau and the U.S. Department of Justice as they conduct their regulatory reviews of the transaction.
Further information about the Arrangement Agreement is set out in Ainsworth's management proxy circular dated September 24, 2013, which is available under Ainsworth's profile on www.sedar.com.
Sales of $107.8 million in the first quarter of 2014 were $34.0 million lower than sales of $141.8 million for the same period in 2013. The decrease in sales was mainly due to a 25.3% decrease in realized pricing. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on our realized pricing was moderated by the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to the first quarter of 2013 and stable export pricing, combined with a 1.8% increase in sales volumes due to additional production from High Level. The increase in volume from High Level was partially offset by transportation issues during the first quarter of 2014.
Adjusted EBITDA was $10.2 million in the first quarter of 2014 compared to $62.5 million in the same period of 2013, largely as a result of lower realized pricing. Net loss from continuing operations in the first quarter of 2014 was $14.5 million compared to net income of $36.5 million in the first quarter of 2013. The $51.0 million decrease was due to a reduction in gross profit and increased selling and administration expense, combined with fluctuations in non-cash accounting gains and losses and income tax expense.
Adjusted EBITDA margin on sales was 9.5% compared to 44.1% in the same period of 2013. The decrease was largely related to the decrease in gross profit.
Benchmark OSB pricing was down significantly from the same period last year, with North Central and Western Canadian pricing for 7/16" OSB both averaging U.S.$219 per msf (a decrease of 47% and 48%, respectively). Sequentially, the North Central benchmark price decreased 11% versus the prior quarter, while the Western Canadian benchmark price was flat.
At March 31, 2014, Ainsworth's available liquidity, consisting of cash and cash equivalents, was $115.5 million, a reduction of $21.9 million since December 31, 2013 resulting from our seasonal log inventory build and capital expenditures.
"Despite a weaker quarter for OSB pricing, we are optimistic about the outlook as U.S. housing indicators continue to show overall improvement. Additionally, we continue to experience growth and stable pricing in our traditional export market of Japan. We are also continuing to advance our opportunities in export markets such as China for industrial applications of OSB. The restart of our High Level mill will allow us to meet the growing requirements of our existing North American and export customers as well as service new market segments over the longer term."