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Tembec reports financial Q4 2015 results

November 19, 2015 - Consolidated sales for the three-month period ended September 26, 2015, were $373 million, as compared to $371 million in the same quarter a year ago. The company generated a net loss of $32 million or $0.32 per share in the September 2015 quarter compared to net earnings of $5 million or $0.05 per share in the September 2014 quarter. The current quarter results include a non-cash loss of $38 million related to the translation of U.S. dollar denominated debt. Operating earnings before depreciation, amortization and other items (adjusted EBITDA) was $36 million for the three-month period ended September 26, 2015, as compared to adjusted EBITDA of $29 million a year ago and adjusted EBITDA of $2 million in the prior quarter.

For the fiscal year ended September 26, 2015, consolidated sales were $1.4 billion as compared to $1.5 billion in the prior year. The company generated a net loss of $150 million or $1.50 per share compared to net earnings of $9 million or $0.09 per share in fiscal 2014. The current year loss includes a non-cash loss of $81 million related to the translation of U.S. dollar denominated debt. Adjusted EBITDA was $70 million compared to $90 million in the prior year. Operating earnings declined from $88 million to $31 million in the most recent 12-month period.

Business segment results
The Specialty Cellulose Pulp segment generated adjusted EBITDA of $15 million on sales of $121 million for the quarter ended September 2015, compared to negative adjusted EBITDA of $6 million on sales of $108 million in the prior quarter. Pulp sales increased by $14 million due to higher shipments of both specialty and viscose grades. 

The $63 per tonne increase in Canadian dollar selling prices for specialty grades was due to currency as both U.S. dollar and euro selling prices did not increase. The $68 per tonne increase in the selling price of viscose and other commodity grades was also currency driven as the U.S. dollar selling prices were relatively unchanged. Overall, higher pulp prices increased adjusted EBITDA by $5 million. Shipments were equal to 87 per cent of capacity, compared to 78 per cent in the June 2015 quarter. The June 2015 quarter results were significantly impacted by major planned maintenance at both pulp mills. The Tartas facility, which takes major maintenance every 18 months, was down for approximately two weeks in April 2015. The Temiscaming facility, which conducts major maintenance every 12 months, was idled for approximately one week in May 2015. There was no major maintenance downtime at either pulp mill in the September 2015 quarter and they produced 12,700 more tonnes compared to the June 2015 quarter. Overall, mill cash costs declined by $18 million, including $8 million of maintenance material.

The Forest Products segment generated adjusted EBITDA of $4 million on sales of $107 million for the quarter ended September 2015, compared to negative adjusted EBITDA of $3 million on sales of $103 million in the prior quarter. Sales increased by $4 million due to higher SPF lumber prices and shipments. Lumber shipments were equal to 84 per cent of capacity versus 83 pert cent in the prior quarter. During the September 2015 quarter, the random length lumber reference price increased by US $1 per mbf while the reference price for stud lumber decreased by US $13 per mbf. Currency was a significant favourable factor as the Canadian dollar averaged US$0.765, a 5.9 per cent decline from US$0.813 in the prior quarter. The combined effect was that Canadian dollar selling prices increased by approximately $11 per mbf, increasing adjusted EBITDA by $2 million. Sawmill manufacturing costs declined by $6 million, primarily due to the lower cost of timber.

The Paper Pulp segment generated adjusted EBITDA of $7 million on sales of $80 million for the quarter ended September 2015, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $3 million on sales of $90 million in the prior quarter. The $10 million decrease in sales was due to lower shipments. The benchmark price (delivered China) for bleached eucalyptus kraft (BEK) increased by US$8 per tonne. However, the increase did not carry over into the high-yield paper pulp market and US dollar prices declined by US $28 per tonne. The decline in the relative value of the Canadian dollar offset the drop in US dollar prices. Overall, average selling prices in Canadian dollars were relatively unchanged quarter-over-quarter. Pulp shipments were equal to 92 per cent of capacity as compared to 104 per cent in the prior quarter. In the September 2015 quarter, the two pulp mills produced 5,400 more tonnes as compared to the prior quarter. The higher productivity combined with lower fibre, energy and maintenance material reduced costs by $5 million.

The Paper segment generated adjusted EBITDA of $13 million on sales of $91 million for the quarter ended September 2015, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $9 million on sales of $86 million in the prior quarter. Higher coated bleached board shipments and prices led to the $5 million increase in sales. The coated bleached board market was stable. The coated bleached board shipment to capacity ratio was 93 per cent compared to 87 per cent in the prior quarter. Currency was a positive factor as the Canadian dollar weakened versus the US dollar. The U.S. dollar reference price was unchanged at $1,180 per short ton. Overall, average selling prices for coated bleached board were up $55 per tonne increasing adjusted EBITDA by $2 million. Manufacturing costs decreased by $1 million. The newsprint market remained weak with continued decreases in North American demand. The newsprint shipment to capacity ratio was 77 per cent compared to 85 per cent in the prior quarter. The U.S. dollar benchmark price for newsprint declined by US$32 per tonne. The previously noted decline in the relative value of the Canadian dollar offset this decline and Canadian dollar newsprint selling prices were unchanged quarter-over-quarter. Manufacturing costs at the Kapuskasing newsprint mill were similar to those of the prior quarter.

Previous guidance
On September 11, 2015, the company issued a forecast for the fourth quarter ended September 26, 2015. At that time, the company was having discussions with certain parties regarding its previously announced intentions to enhance its liquidity. Such discussions had led to questions regarding the company's financial performance in the September 2015 quarter and it was deemed prudent to provide guidance on expected operating results. The company expected that adjusted EBITDA for the September 2015 quarter would be in the range of $31 million to $34 million. Actual adjusted EBITDA for the September 2015 quarter was $36 million. The outperformance versus forecast was due primarily to a weaker Canadian dollar, which averaged US$0.755 in the month of September versus US$0.77 assumed in the forecast.

Subsequent event
On November 18, 2015, the company announced that it had entered into a new asset-based loan (ABL), which consists of a $150 million revolving credit facility (revolving loan) and a US$62 million "first-in, last out" term loan (FILO loan). The new ABL replaced the company's existing $175 million ABL revolving credit facility. The revolving loan will expire on November 18, 2020, provided several conditions are met, including repayment of the FILO loan prior to March 2, 2018, failing which the maturity would be accelerated to an earlier date, but not earlier than March 2, 2018. The revolving loan has a first priority charge over the receivables and inventories of the company's Canadian and U.S. operations. The FILO loan is secured by the same collateral as the revolving loan and ranks second in repayment priority relative to the revolving loan. The FILO loan is also secured by a first priority charge on the fixed assets of one of the company's U.S. subsidiaries. The company utilized borrowings under the new ABL to repay the amounts outstanding under the prior ABL revolving credit facility and pay transaction fees and expenses. After giving effect to the refinancing, the company's total liquidity at November 18, 2015, was approximately $112 million, compared to $56 million at the end of the September 2015 quarter.

Outlook
Overall, the September 2015 results were better than initially anticipated. The lower Canadian dollar combined with a relatively light major maintenance schedule increased adjusted EBITDA by $34 million over the prior quarter. As expected, the Specialty Cellulose adjusted EBITDA improved by $21 million due to the absence of major maintenance and higher productivity. Price realizations improved, primarily due to currency. Fiscal 2015 shipments of specialty grades are down 13 per cent from the prior fiscal year, although a large portion of this decline occurred in the first two quarters of the year. It is difficult to forecast demand and prices for fiscal 2016 at this time. The upcoming annual contracts negotiations with our customers will provide more insight. To offset the lower specialty demand, the Company is increasing the production of viscose grades at the Temiscaming operation. The investment in the new boiler and turbine has reduced energy costs significantly, allowing the pulp mill to compete and generate positive margins in this lower-priced line of business. The Forest Products segment adjusted EBITDA improved by $7 million, primarily driven by foreign exchange and lower seasonal costs. U.S. dollar selling prices were relatively low and we are now in the fall period during which lumber prices are seasonally weaker. We remain bullish on the medium and longer term outlook for lumber driven by a gradual increase in US housing starts. The Paper Pulp segment adjusted EBITDA improved by $4 million due to lower costs and higher productivity. However, demand for high-yield pulp is relatively weak in certain markets, and the Company anticipates that market downtime will be required in the December 2015 quarter. The Paper segment adjusted EBITDA increased by $4 million. The coated bleached board markets remain stable and this business should continue to generate good results bolstered by a relatively weaker Canadian dollar. Ongoing weakness in the newsprint markets continues to put downward pressure on prices and this situation will likely persist in the coming quarters.

About Tembec
Tembec is a manufacturer of forest products – lumber, pulp, paper and specialty cellulose – and a global leader in sustainable forest management practices. Principal operations are in Canada and France. With annual sales of approximately $1.5 billion, Tembec has 3,250 employees and is listed on the TSX (TMB). The full quarterly report, including the interim Management Discussion and Analysis, the interim financial statements and the accompanying notes for the quarter ended September 26, 2015, can be obtained on Tembec's website at www.tembec.com or on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

The Company`s financial results have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). All financial references are stated in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise noted. All references to quarterly information relate to Tembec's fiscal quarters. Adjusted EBITDA and certain other financial measures utilized in the press release are non-IFRS financial measures. As they have no standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS, they may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. Non-IFRS financial measures are described in the Definitions section on the last page of the interim Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A).

This press release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of securities laws. Such statements relate, without limitation, to the Company's or management's objectives, projections, estimates, expectations or predictions of the future and can be identified by words such as "may", "will", "could", "anticipate", "estimate", "expect" and "project", the negative or variations thereof, and expressions of similar nature. Forward‑looking statements are based on certain assumptions and analyses made by the Company in light of its experience, information available to it and its perception of future developments. Such statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, changes in foreign exchange rates, product selling prices, raw material and operating costs and other factors identified in the Company's periodic filings with securities regulatory authorities, including under the "risk factors" section of the Company's most recent Annual Information Form. Many of these risks are beyond the control of the Company and, therefore, may cause actual actions or results to materially differ from those expressed or implied herein. The forward-looking statements contained herein reflect the Company's expectations as of the date hereof and are subject to change after such date. The Company disclaims any intention to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless required by applicable securities legislation.


November 19, 2015
By CNW Telbec/Tembec