Commodities & Metals

Weyerhaeuser Earnings OK, but Outlook Weak on Lower Pulp Sales

Weyerhaeuser Co. (NYSE: WY) reported fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 results before markets opened Friday. For the quarter, the wood products REIT posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.24 on revenues of $1.73 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported adjusted EPS of $0.27 on revenues of $1.78 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $0.24 and $1.72 billion in revenues.

For the full year, Weyerhaeuser reported EPS of $1.04 and revenues of $7.08 billion, compared with 2014 EPS of $1.25 and sales of $7.4 billion. Analysts had been looking for EPS of $1.03 and revenues of $7.06 billion.

In the fourth quarter, the company’s GAAP EPS totaled $0.11, which excluded some $62 million in one-time charges, including a $14 million charge related to the proposed $8.3 billion merger between Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. (NYSE: PCL). The merger is expected to be completed in the first half of this year and will create a $23 billion giant in the timber and wood products business. The combined company will own some 13 million acres of timberland.

Sales in the company’s wood products segment fell by $101 million in the fourth quarter, and that decline more than offset small revenue increases in the timberlands segment (up $11 million) and the cellulose fiber segment (up $4 million).

In its outlook statements, Weyerhaeuser said that timberlands segment earnings in the first quarter would be comparable to fourth-quarter earnings of $134 million. In the wood products segment, the company expects higher earnings than the $45 million net loss in the fourth quarter as a result of “moderately higher average sales realizations for lumber and increased production volumes across all product lines.” First-quarter earnings in the cellulosic fiber segment are forecast to be “significantly lower” than the fourth-quarter net loss of $99 million primarily due to lower pulp prices and sales.

Weyerhaeuser CEO Doyle R. Simons said:

2015 was a milestone year for Weyerhaeuser, as we announced a transformational merger that will create the world’s premier timber, land and forest products company. At the same time, we maintained our relentless focus on improving our relative performance and delivered on our 2015 operational excellence targets. Finally, we fulfilled our commitment to return cash to shareholders through a 7 percent dividend increase and the repurchase of over $500 million of common shares. Looking forward to 2016, completion of our merger with Plum Creek, the strategic review of our Cellulose Fibers business, and our continued focus on operational excellence and disciplined capital allocation will position us to drive value for our shareholders.

Weyerhaeuser’s shares were inactive in Friday’s premarket session, having closed up about 1.1% at $25.74 on Thursday, in a 52-week range of $23.73 to $35.75. The consensus price target for the shares was around $35.92 before this report.

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