(Bloomberg) -- Canadian forestry stocks are surging as consumers stuck at home during the pandemic ramp up renovations on their homes and dwindling lumber supplies send timber-product prices to a two-year high.
Canfor Corp. shares touched a seven-month high on Friday and were headed for their tenth straight gain. Shares of West Fraser Timber Co. and Interfor Corp. also have been on a tear and have nearly tripled since March. All three companies are based in Vancouver.
The Covid-19 pandemic was initially expected to hurt lumber markets as surging unemployment curtailed demand and lockdowns shuttered the offices that issue permits for cutting operations. Instead, spending on home repairs and renovation is “high and accelerating,” and new home construction is recovering, RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Quinn said.
At the same time, aggressive production cuts have tightened lumber output, causing futures in Chicago to double since early April, making it one of the top-performing commodities of the year. The price advanced as high as $553.20 per 1,000 board feet on Friday, reaching the exchange’s daily limit and touching the highest since July 2018. The price had plunged as low as $251.50 on April 1.
Lumber prices could continue climbing to more than $600 in the short term, Quinn said.
“Inventories are still very low,” he said. “Significant permanent capacity closures have led to widespread shortages.”
The pace of purchases doesn’t appear to be slowing yet either, said Kevin Mason, managing director of Vancouver-based ERA Forest Products Research
“Usually the cure for high prices is high prices, but so far, there are no signs of the panic-buying abating,” Mason said. “Demand has been incredibly strong.”
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