Yesterday was a busy day for the board of directors at Weyerhaeuser Co. (NYSE: WY). The REIT named a new chief executive officer, announced a deal to spend $2.65 billion to acquire another 645,000 acres of timberland in Washington and Oregon, and said it is exploring “strategic alternatives” for its real estate company.
The company named Doyle Simons its new CEO, who had been the CEO and chairman of Temple-Inland prior to its acquisition by International Paper Co. (NYSE: IP). Simons has been a director at Weyerhaeuser since February of 2012.
Weyerhaeuser also said it intends to offer 28 million common shares to finance its $2.65 billion acquisition of Longview Timber, which is currently owned by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (NYSE: BAM). Weyerhaeuser said the acquisition will immediately boost company earnings and has raised its dividend from $0.20 to $0.22 beginning with the September payment.
Finally, the company will explore strategic alternatives for its Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company (WRECO). Now is a “prudent time” to do this, according to the company’s retiring CEO, given the improvement in the housing market. WRECO is among the 20 largest home builders in the U.S.
The acquisition of more timberland is the biggest news here. Lumber prices have fallen since the beginning of the year, after running up in the final few months of last year. Random length lumber contracts are trading around $285, down from around $400 in February and March. Whether the acquisition pays off even better for shareholders will depend in large part on demand for homebuilding, which should pick up soon.
Shares in Weyerhaeuser are up 3% in premarket trading this morning at $29.15 in a 52-week range of $20.11 to $33.24.