Wood Business

Industry News Markets
West Fraser impacted by deep chill

Feb. 14, 2014, Vancouver - West Fraser Timber reported earnings of $118 million or $1.37 per share on sales of $833 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 and earnings of $349 million or $4.07 per share, on sales of $3,474 million for 2013. Earnings per share figures for the current and prior periods have been adjusted to reflect a stock dividend paid January 13, 2014. The stock dividend had the same effect as a two-for-one share split.

Fourth quarter earnings include the recognition of a $101 million benefit related to our remaining tax loss carryforwards not previously recognized.

Operational results

In the quarter, lumber operations generated operating earnings of $32 million (Q3 - $57 million) and EBITDA of $83 million (Q3 - $83 million). Restructuring charges of $24 million are included in operating earnings in the quarter, representing costs associated with the planned closure of the Houston, B.C. sawmill. The benefit provided by higher lumber prices and a weaker Canadian dollar was offset by the effect of reduced shipments. Lumber markets weakened late in the quarter as severe weather reduced demand and also affected transportation. Despite prices strengthening for certain lumber grades and dimensions, prices for wide-width SYP lumber declined during the quarter, which adversely affected our U.S. lumber results.

The panel segment, which includes plywood, LVL and MDF, generated operating earnings in the quarter of $2 million (Q3 - $6 million) and EBITDA of $6 million (Q3 - $9 million), mostly reflecting reduced plywood shipments due to a seasonal slowdown in the Canadian building industry and weather-related reduced railcar deliveries.

Pulp and paper operations generated operating earnings in the quarter of $13 million (Q3 - $29 million) and EBITDA of $24 million (Q3 - $40 million). Improved NBSK pricing and a weaker Canadian dollar were offset by operational difficulties at our NBSK mills.

Outlook

"We consider that 2013 represents a year of remarkable recovery," said Ted Seraphim, President and CEO. "We achieved our highest earnings since 2006 reflecting a continuing improvement in the U.S. housing market after a prolonged downturn. We are early in the recovery and as such, we expect some volatility, but the overall trend remains positive. We are also experiencing some of the benefits from our ongoing major capital investment program."