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Ainsworth reports mixed 2014 results

Feb. 27, 2015 – Lower OSB prices, a slower recovery of the U.S. housing market and higher overall unit costs contributed to weaker-than-expected fourth quarter and year end financial results for Ainsworth in 2014.

Sales of $102.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 were $1.9 million lower than sales of $104.4 million for the same period in 2013. The decrease in sales was mainly due to a 4% decrease in realized pricing. Sales volumes increased by 2% due to the ongoing ramp up of High Level notwithstanding downtime taken during the fourth quarter. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on realized pricing was moderated by factors including the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to the fourth quarter of 2013 combined with stable export pricing in Japan.

Sales were $444.0 million in 2014 compared to $488.0 million in 2013. The $44.0 million decrease was primarily related to a 17% decrease in realized pricing, partially offset by a 9% increase in sales volumes. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on realized pricing was again moderated by factors including the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to 2013 combined with stable export pricing in Japan. The increase in volume from High Level was partially offset by the downtime taken at the various mills to complete maintenance and other projects during the year.

Ainsworth President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Lake said, "North American OSB market conditions continued to drift throughout the year as the pace of demand growth did not materialize as expected. However, we remain optimistic that U.S. housing starts will return to more historical levels within the next several years, with various indicators pointing towards strong growth in 2015 versus 2014.

"We maintained the strong performance we saw in 2013 in our key export market in Japan and also made progress in China as we began commercial shipments of our industrial core stock products. Additionally, we progressed in the ongoing ramp up of our High Level mill, including the completion of a number of strategic capital projects that will further position the mill to efficiently manufacture an enhanced range of products for North American and Asian customers."

While the pace of improvement in U.S. housing starts in 2014 was more gradual than anticipated, Ainsworth expects that the U.S. housing recovery will gain further traction in 2015. The company remains optimistic that U.S. housing starts will return to more historical levels within the next several years. The restart of the High Level mill will allow them to meet the growing requirements of its existing customer base in North America and Asia as well as service new market segments. Ainsworth expects the merger with Norbord will allow the combined company to capitalize on the ongoing recovery in the U.S. housing market and growth opportunities in our traditional and emerging markets in Asia.