West Fraser ("WFT") Announces Third Quarter Results

Marketwired

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct 29, 2012) - West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (WFT.TO) today reported earnings for the third quarter of 2012 of $55 million and earnings per share of $1.27 on sales of $772 million. For the first nine months of 2012, earnings were $65 million and earnings per share were $1.51, on sales of $2.2 billion.

These results compare with previous periods as follows:

($ million except earnings 2012 2011
per share ("EPS")) YTD Q3 Q2 YTD Q3
Sales 2,227 772 774 2,112 705
EBITDA1 203 102 82 208 66
Operating earnings 90 66 46 80 23
Earnings from continuing operations 65 55 27 37 6
Adjusted earnings from continuing operations2 85 55 41 37 2
Adjusted basic EPS from continuing operations2 1.97 1.27 0.96 0.87 0.05
Earnings after discontinued operations 65 55 27 66 37
Basic EPS after discontinued operations ($) 1.51 1.27 0.63 1.56 0.87
Diluted EPS after discontinued operations ($) 1.51 1.27 0.63 1.26 0.44
1. In this News Release, reference is made to EBITDA (defined as operating earnings plus amortization). Management of the Company believes that, in addition to earnings, EBITDA is a useful performance indicator and is a useful measure of cash available prior to debt service, capital expenditures and income taxes. Reference is also made to Adjusted earnings from continuing operations (calculated as set out in the table described in footnote 2) and Adjusted basic EPS from continuing operations (collectively, with EBITDA, "these measures"). None of these measures is a generally accepted earnings measure under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS") and none has a standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS. Investors are cautioned that these measures should not be considered as an alternative to earnings, earnings per share or cash flow, as determined in accordance with IFRS. As there is no standardized method of calculating any of these measures, our method of calculating each of them may differ from the methods used by other entities and, accordingly, our use of any of these measures may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures used by other entities.
2. Refer to the table titled "Earnings Adjustments for Certain Non-Operational Items" in Management''s Discussion and Analysis of the third quarter 2012 results for details of adjustments.

Operational Results

In the quarter the lumber segment generated operating earnings of $37 million and EBITDA of $58 million. Lumber prices continued to reflect gradually improving U.S. demand combined with continuing steady demand for Canadian lumber from both Canada and Asia. Higher benchmark lumber prices triggered a reduction in duties charged on softwood lumber exported to the U.S. from B.C. and Alberta during the quarter.

The panels segment, which includes plywood, LVL and MDF, generated improved operating earnings in the quarter of $22 million and EBITDA of $25 million reflecting strong Canadian plywood prices.

Pulp and paper operations generated operating earnings of $17 million and EBITDA of $28 million, in line with the previous quarter. The average NBSK benchmark price for the quarter fell to US$853 per tonne from US$900 in the previous quarter but reduced costs resulted in a marginal improvement in operating earnings compared with the previous quarter.

Outlook

We expect results from our lumber and panels businesses to improve if U.S. housing construction continues to recover. Despite a continuing positive trend, the current recovery could be adversely affected by U.S. or global economic events.

NBSK pulp prices have seen a slight recovery recently but the current and anticipated supply imbalance is likely to lead to continuing soft markets.

Hank Ketcham, West Fraser''s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said, "We are encouraged by the signs of a recovery in the U.S. and we feel that we are well positioned to take advantage of the strengthening of the U.S. housing market."

Acquisition

West Fraser also announced that it has entered into an agreement to purchase the Sundance sawmilling and remanufacturing operations based in Edson, Alberta and related timber harvesting rights.  The facilities have an operational capacity of approximately 150 million board feet and the annual allowable harvest is approximately 795,000 m3 of coniferous and 53,000 m3 of deciduous trees, including a temporary uplift of approximately 375,000 m3 until 2017.

"We are pleased to have an opportunity to grow our business in Alberta and we are excited to welcome the Sundance employees to the West Fraser team," said Hank Ketcham.

Completion of the transaction is scheduled for October 31, 2012.

The Company

West Fraser is an integrated wood products company producing lumber, wood chips, LVL, MDF, plywood, pulp and newsprint. The Company has operations in western Canada and the southern United States.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains historical information, descriptions of current circumstances and statements about potential future developments. The latter, which are forward-looking statements are included under the heading "Outlook", and are presented to provide reasonable guidance to the reader but their accuracy depends on a number of assumptions which are subject to various risks and uncertainties some of which are described under this heading. Actual outcomes and results will depend on a number of factors including those matters described in the 2011 annual Management''s Discussion & Analysis under "Risks and Uncertainties", and may differ from those anticipated or projected. Accordingly, readers should exercise caution in relying upon forward-looking statements and the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly revise them to reflect subsequent events or circumstances, except as required by applicable securities laws.

Management''s Discussion & Analysis

The Company''s Management''s Discussion & Analysis for the third quarter of 2012 is available on the Company''s website: www.westfraser.com and on the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval at www.sedar.com under the Company''s profile.

Conference Call

Investors are invited to listen to the quarterly conference call on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time (11:30 a.m. Eastern Time) by dialing 1-800-952-6845 (toll- free North America). The call may also be accessed through West Fraser''s website at www.westfraser.com.

West Fraser shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol: "WFT".

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.        
Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets        
(in millions of Canadian dollars - unaudited)        
 
    September 30   December 31
    2012   2011
Assets        
Current assets        
Cash and short-term investments $ 164 $ 68
Receivables   255   266
Income taxes receivable   -   4
Inventories (note 3)   417   398
Prepaid expenses   13   9
    849   745
Property, plant and equipment   935   936
Timber licences   478   490
Goodwill and other intangibles   330   336
Other assets   22   30
  $ 2,614 $ 2,537
 
Liabilities        
Current liabilities        
Payables and accrued liabilities $ 308 $ 274
Income taxes payable   15   -
Reforestation and decommissioning   41   41
    364   315
Long-term debt (note 4)   296   306
Other liabilities (note 5)   418   289
Deferred income taxes   110   144
    1,188   1,054
 
Shareholders'' equity        
Share capital   602   601
Accumulated other comprehensive earnings   (12)   (6)
Retained earnings   836   888
    1,426   1,483
  $ 2,614 $ 2,537

 

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.                    
Condensed Consolidated Statement of Changes in Shareholders'' Equity  
(in millions of Canadian dollars - unaudited)              
   
    July 1 to September 30     January 1 to September 30  
    2012     2011     2012     2011  
   
Retained earnings                        
Balance - beginning of period $ 847   $ 953   $ 888   $ 943  
Actuarial loss on employee future benefits (net of tax)   (60 )   (82 )   (99 )   (89 )
Earnings for the period   55     37     65     66  
Dividends   (6 )   (6 )   (18 )   (18 )
Balance - end of period $ 836   $ 902   $ 836   $ 902  
   
Accumulated other comprehensive earnings                        
Balance - beginning of period $ (5 ) $ (16 ) $ (6 ) $ (10 )
Translation gain (loss) on foreign operations   (7 )   17     (6 )   11  
Balance - end of period $ (12 ) $ 1   $ (12 ) $ 1  
   
Share capital                        
Balance - beginning of period $ 601   $ 601   $ 601   $ 601  
Issuance of Common shares   1     -     1     -  
Balance - end of period $ 602   $ 601   $ 602   $ 601  
   
Shareholders'' equity $ 1,426   $ 1,504   $ 1,426   $ 1,504  

 

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.                        
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Earnings and Comprehensive Earnings              
(in millions of Canadian dollars - unaudited)                        
   
    July 1 to September 30     January 1 to September 30  
    2012     2011     2012     2011  
   
Sales $ 772   $ 705   $ 2,227   $ 2,112  
   
Costs and expenses                        
Cost of products sold   504     500     1,515     1,441  
Freight and other distribution costs   116     120     359     349  
Export taxes   10     15     37     43  
Amortization   36     43     113     128  
Selling, general and administration   30     24     82     78  
Equity-based compensation   10     (20 )   31     (7 )
    706     682     2,137     2,032  
Operating earnings   66     23     90     80  
Interest expense   (4 )   (5 )   (14 )   (16 )
Exchange gain (loss) on long-term debt   10     (25 )   10     (16 )
Other income (expense) (note 7)   (3 )   17     (2 )   13  
Earnings from continuing operations before tax provision   69     10     84     61  
Tax provision (note 8)   (14 )   (4 )   (19 )   (24 )
Earnings from continuing operations   55     6     65     37  
Earnings from discontinued operations (note 9)   -     31     -     29  
Earnings $ 55   $ 37   $ 65   $ 66  
   
Earnings per share (dollars) (note 10)                        
Basic from continuing operations $ 1.27   $ 0.14   $ 1.51   $ 0.87  
Diluted from continuing operations $ 1.27   $ (0.29 ) $ 1.51   $ 0.58  
Basic after discontinued operations $ 1.27   $ 0.87   $ 1.51   $ 1.56  
Diluted after discontinued operations $ 1.27   $ 0.44   $ 1.51   $ 1.26  
   
Comprehensive earnings                        
Earnings $ 55   $ 37   $ 65   $ 66  
Other comprehensive earnings                        
Translation gain (loss) on foreign operations   (7 )   17     (6 )   11  
Actuarial loss on employee future benefits (note 6)   (79 )   (108 )   (131 )   (118 )
Tax recovery on actuarial loss on employee future benefits   19     26     32     29  
Comprehensive earnings $ (12 ) $ (28 ) $ (40 ) $ (12 )

 

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.                        
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows                        
(in millions of Canadian dollars - unaudited)                        
   
    July 1 to September 30     January 1 to September 30  
    2012     2011     2012     2011  
Operating activities                        
Earnings from continuing operations $ 55   $ 6   $ 65   $ 37  
Adjustments                        
  Amortization   36     43     113     128  
  Interest expense   4     5     14     16  
  Exchange loss (gain) on long-term debt   (10 )   25     (10 )   16  
  Tax provision   14     4     19     24  
  Income taxes received (paid)   5     (7 )   3     (75 )
  Reforestation and decommissioning obligations   (7 )   (2 )   1     6  
  Employee future benefits expense   10     9     29     28  
  Contributions to employee future benefit plans   (11 )   (20 )   (25 )   (29 )
  Other   (8 )   (7 )   (9 )   (7 )
Changes in non-cash working capital                        
  Receivables   11     6     (24 )   (24 )
  Inventories   (26 )   (1 )   (22 )   16  
  Prepaid expenses   9     5     (4 )   (5 )
  Payables and accrued liabilities   26     11     24     5  
Cash flows from operating activities   108     77     174     136  
   
Financing activities                        
Repayment of operating loans   -     -     -     (15 )
Interest paid   (1 )   (1 )   (10 )   (11 )
Dividends   (6 )   (6 )   (18 )   (18 )
Other   1     -     1     -  
Cash flows from financing activities   (6 )   (7 )   (27 )   (44 )
   
Investing activities                        
Additions to capital assets   (31 )   (55 )   (106 )   (124 )
Proceeds from Green Transformation Program (note 11)   5     11     45     32  
Proceeds from disposal of capital assets   7     9     9     10  
Other   1     -     1     1  
Cash flows from investing activities   (18 )   (35 )   (51 )   (81 )
   
Change in cash from continuing operations   84     35     96     11  
Change in cash from discontinued operations (note 9)   -     39     -     36  
Cash - beginning of period   80     134     68     161  
Cash - end of period $ 164   $ 208   $ 164   $ 208  

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Notes to Condensed Consolidated Interim Financial Statements

(figures are in millions of dollars except where indicated - unaudited)

  1. Nature of operations

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. ("the Company") is an integrated wood products company producing lumber, wood chips, LVL, MDF, plywood, pulp and newsprint and is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "WFT". Its executive office is located at 858 Beatty Street, Suite 501, Vancouver, British Columbia. The Company was formed by articles of amalgamation under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) and is registered in British Columbia, Canada. 

  1. Basis of presentation and statement of compliance

These condensed consolidated interim financial statements have been prepared in accordance with International Accounting Standard 34 Interim Financial Reporting as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board and using the same accounting policies and methods of their application as the December 31, 2011 annual financial statements. These condensed consolidated interim financial statements should be read in conjunction with the Company''s 2011 annual financial statements.

  1. Inventories

Inventories at September 30, 2012 were written down by $6 million (June 30, 2012 - $4 million; December 31, 2011 - $15 million; September 30, 2011 - $11 million) to reflect net realizable value being lower than cost.

  1. Long-term debt and operating loans

Long-term debt

    September 30,   December 31,
       2012    2011
  US$300 million senior notes due October 2014; interest at 5.2% $ 295 $ 305
  Note payable due in installments to 2020; interest at 5.5%   2   2
    297   307
Less:        
  Deferred financing costs   (1)   (1)
  $ 296 $ 306

Operating loans

The Company has $530 million in revolving lines of credit, of which nil was drawn as at September 30, 2012 (December 31, 2011 - nil). Related deferred financing costs of $5 million are included in other assets at September 30, 2012 (December 31, 2011 - $6 million). As at September 30, 2012, letters of credit in the amount of $43 million have been issued under these facilities.

  1. Other liabilities
    September 30,   December 31,
    2012   2011
Post-retirement $ 306 $ 178
Reforestation   70   70
Decommissioning   16   15
Other   26   26
  $ 418 $ 289
  1. Employee future benefits

The Company maintains defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans covering a majority of its employees. The defined benefit plans provide pension benefits based either on length of service or on earnings and length of service. Total pension expense for the defined benefit plans is $8 million for the three months ended September 30, 2012 (three months ended September 30, 2011 - $8 million) and $25 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2012 (nine months ended September 30, 2011 - $24 million). The Company also provides group life insurance, medical and extended health benefits to certain employee groups.

The status of the defined benefit pension plans and other benefit plans, in aggregate, is as follows:

    September 30,   December 31,
    2012   2011
Projected benefit obligations $ (1,265) $ (1,098)
Fair value of plan assets   971   939
Deficit $ (294) $ (159)
         
Represented by        
Pension surplus1 $ 12 $ 19
Post-retirement obligations2   (306)   (178)
  $ (294) $ (159)
1. Included in other assets.
2. Included in other liabilities.

The significant assumptions used to determine the period-end benefit obligations are as follows:

   September 30,  June 30,  December 31,
   2012  2012  2011
Discount rate on obligation 4.25% 4.75% 5.00%
Expected rate of return on plan assets 6.50% 6.50% 6.50%
Future compensation rate increase 3.50% 3.50% 3.50%

The change in the discount rate on obligations and the difference between the actual rate of return and the expected rate of return on plan assets generated an actuarial loss on employee future benefits, included in comprehensive earnings, as follows:

  July 1 to September 30   January 1 to September 30  
    2012     2011     2012     2011  
Actuarial loss on employee future benefits $ (79 ) $ (108 ) $ (131 ) $ (118 )
Tax recovery on actuarial loss on employee future benefits   19     26     32     29  
  $ (60 ) $ (82 ) $ (99 ) $ (89 )
  1. Other income (expense)
  July 1 to September 30   January 1 to September 30  
    2012     2011     2012     2011  
Foreign exchange gain (loss) - net $ (6 ) $ 12   $ (7 ) $ 6  
Gain on asset sales   3     9     4     9  
Other - net   -     (4 )   1     (2 )
  $ (3 ) $ 17   $ (2 ) $ 13  
  1. Tax provision

The tax provision differs from the amount that would have resulted from applying the Canadian statutory income tax rates to earnings before income taxes as follows:

  July 1 to September 30   January 1 to September 30  
    2012     2011     2012     2011  
Income tax expense at statutory rate of 25.0% (2011 - 26.5%) $ (17 ) $ (3 ) $ (21 ) $ (16 )
Non-taxable amounts   -     1     (4 )   -  
Rate differentials between jurisdictions and on specified activities   (1 )   3     (1 )   5  
Recognized (unrecognized) tax assets   4     (6 )   8     (11 )
Other   -     1     (1 )   (2 )
Tax provision $ (14 ) $ (4 ) $ (19 ) $ (24 )
  1. Discontinued operation

The Company permanently closed its linerboard and kraft paper mill, located in Kitimat, B.C. in January 2010 and the windup was substantially completed in December 2011. 

  1. Earnings per share

Basic earnings per share is calculated based on earnings available to Common shareholders, as set out below, using the weighted average number of Common shares and Class B Common shares outstanding.

Diluted earnings per share is calculated based on earnings available to Common shareholders adjusted to remove the actual share option expense (recovery) charged to earnings and after deducting a notional charge for share option expense assuming the use of the equity settled method, as set out below. The diluted weighted average number of shares is calculated using the treasury stock method. When earnings available to Common shareholders for diluted earnings per share are greater than earnings available to Common shareholders for basic earnings per share, the calculation is anti-dilutive and diluted earnings per share are deemed to be the same as basic earnings per share.

          July 1 to September 30        
    2012     2011    
    From     After     From     After  
    continuing     discontinued     continuing     discontinued  
    operations     operations     operations     operations  
Earnings                        
Basic $ 55   $ 55   $ 6   $ 37  
Share option expense (recovery)   7     7     (18 )   (18 )
Diluted $ 62   $ 62   $ (12 ) $ 19  
 
 
Weighted average number of shares                        
(thousands)                        
Basic   42,860     42,860     42,841     42,841  
Share options   559     559     328     328  
Diluted   43,419     43,419     43,169     43,169  
Earnings per share (dollars)                        
Basic $ 1.27   $ 1.27   $ 0.14   $ 0.87  
Diluted $ 1.27   $ 1.27   $ (0.29 ) $ 0.44  
 
          January 1 to September 30        
    2012     2011  
    From     After     From     After  
    continuing     discontinued     continuing     discontinued  
    operations     operations     operations     operations  
Earnings                        
Basic $ 65   $ 65   $ 37   $ 66  
Share option expense (recovery)   22     22     (9 )   (9 )
Equity settled share option                        
adjustment   (3 )   (3 )   (3 )   (3 )
Diluted $ 84   $ 84   $ 25   $ 54  
 
 
Weighted average number of shares                        
(thousands)                        
Basic   42,855     42,855     42,839     42,839  
Share options   453     453     480     480  
Diluted   43,308     43,308     43,319     43,319  
Earnings per share (dollars)                        
Basic $ 1.51   $ 1.51   $ 0.87   $ 1.56  
Diluted $ 1.51   $ 1.51   $ 0.58   $ 1.26  

 

  1. Green Transformation Program

In 2009 the Government of Canada confirmed an allocation of credits totalling $88 million to the Company under the Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program (the "GT Program"). The GT Program provides funding for capital projects that improve the energy efficiency or environmental performance of Canadian pulp and paper mills. The credits were fully utilized by the Company.

  1. Segmented information

 

                     Corpo-          
                Pulp &   rate       Consoli-  
  Lumber     Panels     paper     & other       dated  
July 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012                                  
 
Sales at market prices                                  
  To external customers $ 473   $ 118   $ 181   $ -     $   772  
  To other segments   18     1     -     -            
  $ 491   $ 119   $ 181   $ -            
 
EBITDA 1 $ 58   $ 25   $ 28   $ (9 )   $   102  
Amortization   (21 )   (3 )   (11 )   (1 )       (36 )
Operating earnings   37     22     17     (10 )       66  
Interest expense   (3 )   -     (1 )   -         (4 )
Exchange gain on long-term debt   -     -     -     10         10  
Other income (expense)   (4 )   -     (3 )   4         (3 )
Earnings from continuing operations                                  
  before tax provision $ 30   $ 22   $ 13   $ 4     $   69  
1. Non GAAP measure:                                  
EBITDA is defined as operating earnings plus amortization.                 Corpo-            
                Pulp &     rate       Consoli-  
    Lumber     Panels     paper     & other       dated  
July 1, 2011 to September 30, 2011                                  
 
Sales at market prices                                  
  To external customers $ 405   $ 94   $ 206   $ -     $   705  
  To other segments   24     3     -     -            
  $ 429   $ 97   $ 206   $ -            
 
EBITDA 1 $ 6   $ 1   $ 37   $ 22     $   66  
Amortization   (22 )   (3 )   (17 )   (1 )       (43 )
Operating earnings   (16 )   (2 )   20     21         23  
Interest expense   (2 )   -     (3 )   -         (5 )
Exchange loss on long-term debt   -     -     -     (25 )       (25 )
Other income (expense)   11     -     10     (4 )       17  
Earnings from continuing operations                                  
  before tax provision $ (7 ) $ (2 ) $ 27   $ (8 )   $   10  

 

January 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012                                  
 
Sales at market prices                                  
To external customers $ 1,306   $ 333   $ 588   $ -   $ 2,227  
To other segments   54     5     -     -            
  $ 1,360   $ 338   $ 588   $ -            
 
EBITDA 1 $ 105   $ 43   $ 85   $ (30 ) $ 203  
Amortization   (63 )   (11 )   (37 )   (2 )       (113 )
Operating earnings   42     32     48     (32 )       90  
Interest expense   (8 )   (2 )   (4 )   -         (14 )
Exchange gain on long-term debt   -     -     -     10         10  
Other income (expense)   (3 )   -     (3 )   4         (2 )
Earnings from continuing operations                                  
before tax provision $ 31   $ 30   $ 41   $ (18 ) $ 84  
1. Non GAAP measure:                                  
EBITDA is defined as operating earnings plus amortization.                              
 
 
                      Corpo            
                Pulp &     rate         Consoli-  
    Lumber     Panels     paper     & other       dated  
January 1, 2011 to September 30, 2011                                  
 
Sales at market prices                                  
  To external customers $ 1,209   $ 277   $ 626   $ -   $ 2,112  
  To other segments   69     7     -     -            
  $ 1,278   $ 284   $ 626   $ -            
 
EBITDA 1 $ 73   $ 4   $ 122   $ 9   $ 208  
Amortization   (63 )   (11 )   (52 )   (2 )       (128 )
Operating earnings   10     (7 )   70     7         80  
Interest expense   (9 )   (2 )   (5 )   -         (16 )
Exchange loss on long-term debt   -     -     -     (16 )       (16 )
Other income (expense)   8     -     9     (4 )       13  
Earnings from continuing operations                                  
before tax provision $ 9   $ (9 ) $ 74   $ (13 ) $ 61  
1. Non GAAP measure:
EBITDA is defined as operating earnings plus amortization.

The geographic distribution of external sales is as follows:

  July 1 to September 30 January 1 to September 30
    2012   2011   2012   2011
United States $ 374 $ 326 $ 1,067 $ 986
Canada   204   166   553   495
China   122   125   374   360
Other Asia   47   55   154   176
Other   25   33   79   95
  $ 772 $ 705 $ 2,227 $ 2,112

Sales distribution is based on the location of product delivery by the Company.

Contact:
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Larry Hughes
Vice-President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer
(604) 895-2700
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Rodger Hutchinson
Vice-President, Corporate Controller
(604) 895-2700
(604) 681-6061
www.westfraser.com

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