Remanufacturing
March 22, 2017 - Hardwoods Distribution Inc. has announced financial results for the three months and full year ended December 31, 2016.  Hardwoods is North America's largest wholesale distributor of non-structural architectural grade building products to the residential and commercial construction markets, with a strong US and Canadian distribution network.

Highlights (For the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016)

  • On July 15, 2016, Hardwoods acquired Rugby Architectural Products ("Rugby") for a purchase price of US$107 million.
  • Revenue increased 69.8% in the fourth quarter and 38.1% for the full year, compared to the same periods in 2015.
  • The Company increased gross profit by 74.2% in the fourth quarter and by 44.3% in the 12-month period, compared to the same periods in 2015.
  • Fourth quarter Adjusted EBITDA climbed 42.6% to $10.9 million, and full-year Adjusted EBITDA increased 32.6% to $46.1 million.
  • Fourth quarter profit increased 47.4% to $6.6 million, while full-year profit climbed 18.4% to $23.9 million.
  • Fourth quarter adjusted diluted profit per share increased to $0.29, while full-year adjusted diluted profit per share increased to$1.33.
  • The Board of Directors approved a quarterly dividend of $0.0625 per share, payable on April 28, 2017 to shareholders of record as at April 17, 2017.
"We achieved record top and bottom line results in 2016 as we benefited from the addition of Rugby Architectural Building Products and generated organic growth in mixed market conditions," said Rob Brown, President and CEO.

"The Rugby acquisition was the highlight of the year and has already proved accretive to our results with adjusted diluted profit per share growing 10.8% to $1.33 in 2016, from $1.20 in 2015. Rugby is a large and successful US wholesale distributor of architectural grade building products to customers that manufacture end-product to the commercial market. With the addition of Rugby's 28 distribution facilities, Hardwoods has emerged as the number one North American distributor in our sector with a total of 58 distribution facilities, more than 35,000 customers and a pro forma annual sales of approximately $1 billion.  During the five-and-a-half months we operated this business in 2016, Rugby contributed revenues of $175.1 million."

Organic growth accounted for $20.4 million of Hardwoods' year-over-year sales growth. Foreign exchange was also a factor in the Company's performance, but affected the fourth quarter and full-year periods differently. Results for the three months ended December 31, 2016 were negatively impacted by a decrease in the value of the US dollar compared to the Canadian dollar, while full-year results were positively impacted by a strengthening in the average value of the US dollar during that period. A stronger US dollar benefits the Company by: i) increasing the value of sales and profits earned in the US operations when translated into Canadian dollars for financial reporting purposes; ii) increasing the selling price of US dollar-denominated products sold to Hardwoods' Canadian customers; and iii) improving the export competitiveness of the Company's Canadian industrial customers, many of whom have the capability to sell their manufactured products in the US.

"Our global product sourcing and commercial market strategies continue to play an important role in our business. We have the size, scale, and strong balance sheet position to pursue growth by acquisition, and the highly fragmented nature of the US architectural building products distribution industry provides numerous opportunities. We will continue to pursue opportunities that take us into new US markets, expand our presence in existing markets, and that can be added on an accretive basis for shareholders."

On March 13, 2017 the Company acquired Eagle Plywood and Lumber ("Eagle") for a purchase price of US$0.4 million plus up to an additional US$0.2 million subject to future sales performance. "The Eagle acquisition  is an example of our ability to expand our presence in an existing market," said Mr. Brown.  "We've now completed five successful acquisitions in the past five and a half years and have a demonstrated ability to achieve profitable growth in this way," Mr. Brown concluded.

Outlook

The recent change in US government administration is expected to usher in new approaches to trade and economic growth in the US. While it is still too early to identify what specific policies will be implemented or how they will impact the US economy, proposals for a large infrastructure spending program, a reduction in the corporate tax rate, and a more protectionist approach to trade, including the potential for a border adjustment tax (BAT), have been discussed.

With 85% of its operations now domiciled in the US, Hardwoods is positioned to benefit from policies that stimulate the US economy or prove generally positive for business.   Conversely, the Company could be negatively impacted, at least in the near term, by trade decisions that affect its import program. As discussed in Hardwoods' press release of November 21, 2016, a trade case has been initiated in the US with respect to imported hardwood plywood from China. Although Hardwoods sells more domestically sourced hardwood plywood than imported, approximately 11% of the Company's total sales could be affected by this case. In the event that trade duties are levied against hardwood plywood, this would impact the market for hardwood plywood in the US with the potential for significant changes in selling prices, margins, and/or product supply availability. Should the US government move to impose a BAT, similar effects could be seen on a wider range of import products and not just those from China. We are watching both the current trade case and broader US trade policy decisions closely, and have worked to secure a range of alternative supply solutions.  Furthermore, we have increased our inventory balances and positioned ourselves to respond in the event significant changes occur.

Notwithstanding the uncertainty around US trade and economic policy, Hardwoods' outlook for 2017 is positive. Gross profit margin as a percentage of sales is expected to remain above the levels Hardwoods has traditionally achieved, reflecting Rugby's higher-margin product mix. Operating expenses are also expected to be moderately higher due to Rugby's sales model. While EBITDA on a dollar basis is expected to benefit from increased sales, EBITDA as a percentage of revenue is expected to be moderately lower due to the increased operating expenses.

On the market front, the unevenness and relatively slow growth experienced in the US residential construction market in 2016 is expected to continue into 2017.  As a result Hardwoods expects organic growth to remain modest in the near term. Market fundamentals remain sound however, with US job growth and income levels gaining momentum. Harvard's Joint  Center for Housing Studies report on the "state of the nation's housing" concluded that housing construction should average at least 1.6 million units a year over the next decade in order to replace older units and meet demand. With average housing starts at 1.2 million in 2016, there is considerable room for growth in this market, although it could take time to reach the 1.6 million level.

In the non-residential construction market, the American Institute of Architects predicts moderate growth of 6.7% in 2017, with the strongest gains anticipated for the commercial sectors that Hardwoods focuses on.

Strategically, the Company will continue to implement its strategies, including leveraging its excellent global product sourcing capabilities, capitalizing on opportunities in the commercial market and pursuing strategic acquisitions.

The Board will continue to review Hardwoods' financial performance and assess dividend levels on a regular basis. However, the primary focus will be to retain the cash necessary to finance the significant market growth opportunity in the US and to keep the balance sheet strong, reduce debt and support future strategic acquisitions.

Results from Operations - Year Ended December 31, 2016

For the year ended December 31, 2016, total sales increased by 38.1% to $789.3 million, from $571.6 million in 2015. Of the $217.7 million year-over-year increase, $175.1 million, representing a 30.6% increase in sales, was driven by the addition of the Rugby operations, $20.4 million, representing a 3.6% increase in sales, was due to organic growth and $22.2 million, representing a 3.9% increase in sales, was due to the positive impact of a stronger US dollar when translating US sales to Canadian dollars for reporting purposes.

Hardwoods' sales growth came primarily from its US operations, where sales activity increased by US$142.5 million, or 40.1%, toUS$498.2 million. Rugby, which was acquired on July 15, 2016, contributed sales of US$132.6 million. Organic growth accounted forUS$9.9 million of the US sales uplift as Hardwoods increased sales volumes in response to higher demand and yielded sales gains from its strategy of leveraging import products and strengthening sales into commercial construction accounts. Sales in Canadaincreased by $13.1 million, or 11.2% in 2016, reflecting Hardwoods' success in winning new business, as well as the positive impacts of a stronger US dollar.

Gross profit for the 2016 year increased 44.3% to $143.8 million, from $99.6 million in 2015. This gain reflects the increased sales, together with a higher gross profit margin. As a percentage of sales, gross profit margin increased to 18.2%, from 17.4% in 2015.

Full-year operating expenses increased to $104.9 million, from $67.4 million in 2015. The increase includes $29.3 million of Rugby operating expenses, $2.4 million of transaction expenses related to the Rugby acquisition, a $3.0 million increase in expenses due to the impact of a stronger US dollar on translation of US operating expense, and $2.7 million of added costs to support organic growth. As a percentage of sales, annual operating expenses were 13.3%, compared to 11.8% in 2015.

Adjusted EBITDA for 2016 increased to $46.1 million, from $34.8 million in 2015.  The 32.6% gain primarily reflects the $44.1 millionincrease in gross profit, partially offset by the $32.8 million increase in operating expenses (before expenses related to the Rugby acquisition and before an increase in depreciation and amortization).  Adjusted profit for the period increased 26.0% to $25.4 million, from $20.1 million in 2015. The year-over-year increase reflects the higher Adjusted EBITDA partially offset by a $1.4 million increase in income tax expense, a $1.6 million increase in net finance costs, and a $2.2 million increase in depreciation and amortization. Depreciation and amortization in 2016 includes $0.9 million intangible assets amortization relating to customer relations acquired in connection with the acquisition of Rugby.

A more detailed discussion of the Company's financial performance can be found in Hardwoods' 2016 Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A). The MD&A will be posted, along with the Company's audited financial statements, on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) and on the Company's website (www.hardwoods-inc.com) on or before March 17, 2017.

Results from Operations - Three Months Ended December 31, 2016

For the three months ended December 31, 2016, total sales increased by 69.8% to $239.4 million, from $141.0 million in Q4 2015. Of the $98.4 million year-over-year increase, $93.5 million, representing a 66.3% increase in sales, was due to Rugby's operations and$5.8 million, representing a 4.1% increase in sales, was due to organic growth. The sales gain was partially offset by a $0.9 millionnegative foreign exchange impact resulting from a stronger Canadian dollar, representing a 0.6% decrease in sales.

Hardwoods' US operations, which accounted for approximately 85% of fourth quarter revenues, increased sales by US$71.3 million, or 84.5%, to US$155.7 million.  The Rugby operations contributed US$70.1 million of this increase, with the remaining increase related to organic growth.

Sales in Canada, which comprised approximately 15% of fourth quarter revenues, grew by $3.6 million, or 12.9%, to $31.7 million.  The improvement in Canadian sales reflects Hardwoods' success in winning new business.

Fourth quarter gross profit increased to $43.5 million, an increase of 74.2% from $25.0 million in Q4 2015. The year-over-year improvement reflects higher sales revenue combined with a higher gross profit margin from both the Rugby and Hardwoods operations. As a percentage of sales, fourth quarter gross profit margin increased to 18.2%, from 17.7% in Q4 2015.

Operating expenses for the three months ended December 31, 2016 were $34.8 million, compared to $18.0 million in Q4 2014.  This increase primarily reflects Rugby operating expenses of $16.3 million$0.1 million of transaction-related expenses, and $0.5 million of added costs to support organic growth. These increases were partially offset by a $0.1 million decrease in expenses due to the impact of a stronger Canadian dollar on translation of US operating expenses. As a percentage of sales, operating expenses increased to 14.5% from 12.8% year-over-year, primarily reflecting Rugby's higher ratio of operating expenses as a percentage of sales.

Fourth quarter Adjusted EBITDA increased 42.6% to $10.9 million, from $7.7 million in Q4 2015. The $3.3 million gain reflects the increase in gross profit, partially offset by higher operating expenses (before expenses related to the Rugby acquisition and before an increase in depreciation and amortization).  Profit for the period increased 47.4% to $6.6 million, from $4.5 million during the same period in 2015. The year-over-year increase reflects the higher Adjusted EBITDA and a $1.1 million decrease in income tax expense, partially offset by a $0.8 million increase in net finance costs and a $1.4 million increase in depreciation and amortization. Depreciation and amortization includes $0.9 million intangible assets amortization relating to customer relations acquired in connection with the acquisition of Rugby.
March 2, 2017 - Georgia-Pacific Wood Products LLC (GP) announced that it has signed a patent license agreement with Huber Engineered Woods LLC (HEW) to settle litigation related to GP's ForceField System products. HEW, the maker of ZIP System branded products, has a portfolio of patents and related pending applications for a structural roof and wall system incorporating water resistant and air barrier technologies that streamline the weatherization process. These technologies provide an advantaged means to weatherize a home. 

The confidential settlement terms grant to GP a license to offer its ForceField System products with the payment of an undisclosed upfront amount and ongoing royalties. "Our license with Huber provides GP with the flexibility to meet our customers' needs for products that install more quickly than house wrap," said Clarence Young, vice-president of oriented strand board (OSB) at Georgia-Pacific Wood Products. "We are pleased to bring closure to the lawsuit with Huber so that we can continue to serve our customers with innovative products that solve real challenges in the building community," added Young. 

For additional information regarding the ForceField System, visit www.gpforcefield.com.
Feb. 13, 2017 - Ever had your eyes glued to the screen watching elaborate cottage and cabin renovation shows?

Well Log Cabin Hub magazine has created an infographic offering a peek at log homes that go beyond your typical, humble abode. Belonging to public figures ranging from Ralph Lauren and Paul McCartney, all the way to Oprah Winfrey and Queen Elizabeth II, here are 20 log cabins of the rich and famous:

(Click on the image below and expand to see the full list.)

Jan. 26, 2017 – Canadian forest products company Western Forest Products (WFP) is permanently closing its South Vancouver Island remanufacturing plant.

The announcement came on Wednesday and follows WFP’s plan to strengthen the company through recapitalization and consolidation.

WFP’s goal is to become a global competitor, according to a statement.

The statement also mentions that all employees of the consolidated South Vancouver Island plant have either received compensation or been located to other facilities within WFP.

WFP also consolidated its sawmills in Nanaimo, B.C. in October 2014. President and CEO Don Demens said that the decision was also part of the strategy to make WFP more competitive worldwide.

“This strategy involves the evaluation of new market programs and operating configurations designed to improve our operating results," Demens said.

According to the company, “Since 2011, Western has invested over $260 million in recapitalizing its coastal operations, including more than $94 million in strategic investments towards upgrading technology, with a focus on reducing costs while maintaining product flexibility.”
Jan. 16, 2017 - Stella-Jones Inc. has provided preliminary unaudited results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2016. These preliminary results are based on information available to the company as of Jan. 13, 2017 and are subject to revision upon finalizing the audit of Stella-Jones' annual consolidated financial statements. Financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2016 will be reported on March 17, 2017.

Stella-Jones is providing this update to inform of lower year-over-year financial results in the fourth quarter. For this period, the company is currently anticipating sales in the range of $340.0-$342.0 million, compared with $357.5 million last year, while operating income is expected to be between $27.0 and $29.0 million, versus $48.3 million a year ago.

2016 will mark the sixteenth consecutive year of sales and net income growth for Stella-Jones. For the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2016, consolidated sales are expected to show a year-over-year increase of nearly 18.0 per cent, reaching close to $1.84 billion, while operating income should be between $232.0 and $234.0 million, up from $220.1 million last year.

The year-over-year decrease in sales and profitability in the fourth quarter of 2016 was primarily driven by lower railway tie demand at the end of the year, as anticipated in management's discussion and analysis for the third quarter of 2016. For the current fiscal year, total sales and operating margins are expected to remain comparable to 2016, assuming stable currencies. 
Jan. 3, 2017 - Growing interest from Asia in resort-style living that is market by specialty wood products is opening doors for B.C.'s remanufacturers.
Nov. 17, 2016 - A fire at the Tolko Industries remanufacturing plant in Lake Country, B.C. prompted an evacuation Tuesday night.

Castanet reports the fire was small and got put out quickly. “The workers ... managed to put a fire hose on it and got it knocked down before our engine arrived on scene,” Lake Country Fire Chief Steve Windsor told Castanet.

Read more here.



Tolko
Nov. 8, 2016 - Stella-Jones is profiting from acquisitions and a greater reach in the residential lumber product category, reporting a sales jump of 18.4 per cent from one year ago. 
Oct. 5, 2016 - Damage from a fire that burned through DAG-Wood Products in Osler, Sask., on the weekend is estimated at $1 million. 
Sept. 14, 2016 - The federal government is investing close to $4.5 million in an East Coast startup working to commercialize a technology that uses rejected wood fibers to make high-strength, lightweight composite building materials, packaging and furniture.

Corruven Canada Inc. plans to use the investments, as well as about $2 million in private funds, to install its first industrial-scale corrugating line and build a market for its products in the U.S. and Canada. The company’s technology allows it to process and press veneer rejects into usable products such as packaging and bed platforms. The company says its materials are approximately 75 per cent lighter and six-time strong than traditional building materials.

Supporting the Canadian forestry industry, the Canadian government’s Investments in Forest Industry Transformation Program provided Corruven $2.5 million in funding for the project, while the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency contributed the remaining $2 million in government funding.

The startup expects the corrugating line and associated research will create 10 new jobs at its base in Saint-Basile, N.B., as well as an additional 14 if the project proves successful.

Aug. 26, 2016 - Brink Forest Products Ltd. has entered into an agreement with the BID Group of Companies to purchase Vanderhoof Specialty Wood Products Ltd. 

Aug. 11, 2016 - With the recent closing of manufacturing plants in the North Bay, Ont., area, one can assume that most people living in the region were relieved to witness the reopening of Columbia Forest Product’s hardwood veneer plant in Rutherglen, Ont. The plant was reopened this past April with USD$1.5 million invested into the facility.

Aug. 10, 2016 - Acquisitions and high demand for residential lumber and railway ties accounts for Stella-Jones' strong second quarter sales results, up 31.5 per cent from one year ago. The company's sales reached $563.1 million, up from $428.1 million in the second quarter last year.

June 9, 2016 – Stella-Jones Inc. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, McFarland Cascade Holdings, Inc., has completed the acquisition of the equity interests of 440 Investments, LLC, the parent company of Kisatchie Treating, LLC, Kisatchie Pole & Piling, LLC, Kisatchie Trucking, LLC and Kisatchie Midnight Express, LLC (collectively, “Kisatchie”). 

Kisatchie produces treated poles, pilings and timbers, with two wood treating facilities in Noble and Pineville, La. Kisatchie’s consolidated sales for the year ended December 31, 2015 reached approximately US$51.8 million. The purchase price was US$42.5 million, including US$10.0 million of working capital, and is subject to post-closing adjustments. Stella-Jones has financed the transaction through a combination of debt financing and a vendor note. 

“The acquisition of Kisatchie allows Stella-Jones to further enhance its offerings in the North American wood treating industry. It is also consistent with our objective of steadily increasing shareholder value through selective acquisitions. We expect this transaction to yield synergies and to be immediately accretive to earnings, as we continue to optimize the overall efficiency of our continental network,” said Brian McManus, president and CEO of StellaJones. 

About Stella-Jones
Stella-Jones Inc. (TSX: SJ) is a leading producer and marketer of pressure treated wood products. The company supplies North America’s railroad operators with railway ties and timbers, and the continent’s electrical utilities and telecommunication companies with utility poles. Stella-Jones also manufactures and distributes residential lumber and accessories to retailers for outdoor applications, as well as industrial products for construction and marine applications. The company’s common shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Except for historical information provided herein, this press release may contain information and statements of a forward-looking nature concerning the future performance of the company. These statements are based on suppositions and uncertainties as well as on management’s best possible evaluation of future events. Such factors may include, without excluding other considerations, fluctuations in quarterly results, evolution in customer demand for the company’s products and services, the impact of price pressures exerted by competitors, the ability of the Company to raise the capital required for acquisitions, and general market trends or economic changes. As a result, readers are advised that actual results may differ from expected results.
May 13, 2016 - Stella-Jones Inc. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, McFarland Cascade Holdings, Inc., has signed a definitive agreement to purchase the shares of Lufkin Creosoting Co., Inc. The signature of a non-binding letter of intent in respect of the proposed acquisition was announced by Stella-Jones on Feb. 3, 2016.

Lufkin Creosoting produces treated poles and timbers at its wood treating facility in Lufkin, Texas. Its consolidated sales for the year ended December 31, 2015 reached approximately US$34.2 million.

The definitive share purchase agreement provides for a purchase price of US$37.5 million which includes US$5.0 million of working capital and is subject to adjustments. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2016 and is subject to customary closing conditions. Stella-Jones plans to finance the transaction through a combination of debt financing and a vendor note.

About Stella-Jones
Stella-Jones Inc. is a leading producer and marketer of pressure treated wood products. The Company supplies North America's railroad operators with railway ties and timbers, and the continent's electrical utilities and telecommunication companies with utility poles. Stella-Jones also manufactures and distributes residential lumber and accessories to retailers for outdoor applications, as well as industrial products for construction and marine applications. The Company's common shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Except for historical information provided herein, this press release contains information and statements of a forward-looking nature concerning the proposed acquisition described herein. These statements are based on suppositions, risks and uncertainties as well as on management's best possible evaluation of future events. Such risks and uncertainties include, without excluding other considerations, the failure to satisfy closing conditions and the failure to complete or delay in completing th e proposed acquisition for any other reason. As a result, readers are advised that actual results may differ from expected results and should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information.
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