West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
TSX : WFT

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.

April 30, 2012 17:01 ET

West Fraser ("WFT") Announces First Quarter Results

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - April 30, 2012) - West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (TSX:WFT) today reported a loss of $17 million or $0.39 per share on sales of $681 million in the first quarter of 2012. These results compare with previous periods as follows:

($ millions except earnings per share ("EPS")) Q1-12 Q4-11 Q1-11
Sales 681 650 687
EBITDA1 18 18 80
Operating earnings (22) (22) 35
Earnings (loss) from continuing operations (17) (11) 20
Basic EPS from continuing operations ($) (0.39) (0.25) 0.46
Adjusted earnings (loss) from continuing operations2 (11) (15) 39
Adjusted basic EPS from continuing operations ($)2 (0.26) (0.35) 0.91
Earnings (loss) after discontinued operations (17) 6 19
Basic EPS after discontinued operations ($) (0.39) 0.14 0.44
Diluted EPS after discontinued operations ($) (0.39) 0.14 0.44

1. In this News Release, reference is made to EBITDA (defined as operating earnings plus amortization). Our management 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 (loss) from continuing operations (calculated as set out in the tables described in footnote 2 and Adjusted basic EPS (collectively, with EBITDA, "these measures"). None of these measures is a generally accepted earnings measure under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS") and none have 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 the Management's Discussion and Analysis of our first quarter 2012 results for details of adjustments.

Operational Results

In the quarter our lumber operations generated an operating loss of $29 million and EBITDA of negative $6 million. The improvement over the prior quarter was smaller than anticipated due to continued weakness in offshore prices for low-grade SPF lumber.

The panel segment, which includes plywood, LVL and MDF, generated $1 million of operating earnings and EBITDA of $5 million in the quarter, a marginal increase over the prior quarter.

Pulp and paper operations generated operating earnings in the quarter of $17 million and EBITDA of $30 million. The improvement over the prior quarter occurred despite the decline in pulp prices as the previous quarter's results were negatively affected by the Hinton Pulp maintenance shutdown.

Outlook

Low-grade SPF lumber prices strengthened late in the quarter returning to a more normalized level compared to the SPF 2&Better benchmark price. Lumber productivity and cost improvements are expected to be realized over the next few quarters as various major capital projects are completed.

Hank Ketcham said, "Although there are some improvements in our markets, we will continue to monitor capital spending and focus on maintaining a strong balance sheet as the North American and Asian economies remain fragile."

Management's Discussion & Analysis ("MD&A")

The Company's MD&A 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.

Normal Course Issuer Bid

The Company announced on May 20, 2011 a normal course issuer bid ("NCIB") under which it is authorized to acquire up to 2,002,879 Common shares for cancellation from June 1, 2011 until expiry of the bid on May 31, 2012. To date, no Common shares have been acquired under this NCIB. The Company announces that it intends to apply to the Toronto Stock Exchange (the "TSX") for approval to renew the NCIB for another year to purchase for cancellation up to 5% of its issued and outstanding Common shares. The renewal of the NCIB is subject to TSX approval and, if approved, will be conducted in accordance with the TSX rules. Full details of the renewed NCIB will be announced upon receipt of TSX approval.

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 and are included under the heading "Outlook", are presented to provide reasonable guidance to the reader but their accuracy depends on a number of assumptions and is subject to various risks and uncertainties. Actual outcomes and results will depend on a number of factors that could affect the ability of the Company to execute its business plans, including those matters described in the 2011 annual Management's Discussion & Analysis under "Risks and Uncertainties", and may differ materially 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.

Conference Call

Investors are invited to listen to the quarterly conference call on Tuesday, May 1, 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)
March 31 December 31
2012 2011
Assets
Current assets
Cash and short-term investments $ 29.7 $ 67.8
Receivables 308.5 266.7
Income taxes receivable - 4.4
Inventories (note 3) 476.4 397.8
Prepaid expenses 12.1 8.6
826.7 745.3
Property, plant and equipment 942.4 935.7
Timber licences 486.1 490.1
Goodwill and other intangibles 333.9 336.6
Other assets 22.7 29.6
$ 2,611.8 $ 2,537.3
Liabilities
Current liabilities
Cheques issued in excess of funds on deposit $ 13.6 $ -
Operating loans (note 4) 51.2 -
Payables and accrued liabilities 304.0 273.9
Income taxes payable 2.0 -
Reforestation and decommissioning 40.9 41.0
Current portion of long-term debt (note 4) 0.3 0.3
412.0 315.2
Long-term debt (note 4) 300.3 306.3
Other liabilities (note 5) 324.0 289.0
Deferred income taxes 133.5 143.8
1,169.8 1,054.3
Shareholders' equity
Share capital 601.4 600.9
Accumulated other comprehensive earnings (10.4) (5.5)
Retained earnings 851.0 887.6
1,442.0 1,483.0
$ 2,611.8 $ 2,537.3
Number of Common shares and Class B Common shares outstanding at April 30, 2012 was 42,855,911.
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Condensed Consolidated Statement of Changes in Equity
(in millions of Canadian dollars - unaudited)
January 1 to March 31
2012 2011
Retained earnings
Balance - beginning of period $ 887.6 $ 942.9
Actuarial gain (loss) on employee future benefits (13.9) 31.3
Earnings for the period (16.7) 18.9
Dividends (6.0) (6.0)
Balance - end of period $ 851.0 $ 987.1
Accumulated other comprehensive earnings
Balance - beginning of period $ (5.5) $ (9.6)
Translation loss on foreign operations (4.9) (5.3)
Balance - end of period $ (10.4) $ (14.9)
Share capital
Balance - beginning of period $ 600.9 $ 600.5
Issuance of Common shares 0.5 0.1
Balance - end of period $ 601.4 $ 600.6
Shareholders' equity $ 1,442.0 $ 1,572.8
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Earnings and Comprehensive Earnings
(in millions of Canadian dollars - unaudited)
January 1 to March 31
2012 2011
Sales $ 681.0 $ 687.0
Costs and expenses
Cost of products sold 495.2 432.3
Freight and other distribution costs 117.0 105.6
Export taxes 13.1 15.6
Amortization 40.3 44.7
Selling, general and administration 25.5 26.7
Equity-based compensation 11.9 27.2
703.0 652.1
Operating earnings (22.0) 34.9
Interest expense (4.8) (4.8)
Exchange gain on long-term debt 5.9 7.5
Other income (expense) (note 7) 0.4 (3.6)
Earnings from continuing operations before tax provision (20.5) 34.0
Tax recovery (provision) (note 8) 3.8 (14.1)
Earnings from continuing operations (16.7) 19.9
Earnings from discontinued operations (note 9) - (1.0)
Earnings $ (16.7) $ 18.9
Earnings per share (dollars) (note 10)
Basic from continuing operations $ (0.39) $ 0.46
Diluted from continuing operations $ (0.39) $ 0.46
Basic after discontinued operations $ (0.39) $ 0.44
Diluted after discontinued operations $ (0.39) $ 0.44
Comprehensive earnings
Earnings $ (16.7) $ 18.9
Other comprehensive earnings
Translation loss on foreign operations (4.9) (5.3)
Actuarial gain (loss) on employee future benefits 1 (13.9) 31.3
Comprehensive earnings $ (35.5) $ 44.9
1. Net of tax recovery of $4.6 (March 31, 2011 - provision of $10.2).
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Condensed Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
(in millions of Canadian dollars - unaudited)
January 1 to March 31
2012 2011
Operating activities
Earnings from continuing operations $ (16.7) $ 19.9
Adjustments
Amortization 40.3 44.7
Interest expense 4.8 4.8
Exchange gain on long-term debt (5.9) (7.5)
Tax provision (recovery) (3.8) 14.1
Income taxes received (paid) 4.3 (61.3)
Reforestation and decommissioning obligations 12.0 11.3
Employee future benefits expense 9.5 12.9
Contributions to employee future benefit plans (4.5) (5.2)
Other (1.3) (1.1)
Changes in non-cash working capital
Receivables (49.7) (29.5)
Inventories (80.0) (107.8)
Prepaid expenses (3.5) (4.6)
Payables and accrued liabilities 17.2 52.7
Cash flows from operating activities (77.3) (56.6)
Financing activities
Repayment of long-term debt (0.3) (0.3)
Proceeds from (repayment of) operating loans 56.3 (3.7)
Interest paid (0.6) (1.6)
Dividends (6.0) (6.0)
Other 0.3 -
Cash flows from financing activities 49.7 (11.6)
Investing activities
Additions to capital assets (41.8) (19.8)
Proceeds from Green Transformation Program (note 11) 15.6 7.5
Proceeds from disposal of capital assets 1.8 0.8
Other 0.3 0.4
Cash flows from investing activities (24.1) (11.1)
Change in cash from continuing operations (51.7) (79.3)
Change in cash from discontinued operations (note 9) - (0.4)
Cash - beginning of period 67.8 160.7
Cash - end of period $ 16.1 $ 81.0
Cash consists of
Cash and short-term investments $ 29.7 $ 81.8
Cheques issued in excess of funds on deposit (13.6) (0.8)
$ 16.1 $ 81.0

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 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.

2. 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.

3. Inventories

Inventories at March 31, 2012 were written down by $19.8 million (December 31, 2011 - $14.9 million; March 31, 2011 - $3.9 million) to reflect net realizable value being lower than cost.

4. Long-term debt and operating loans

Long-term debt

March 31, 2012 December 31, 2011
US$300 million senior notes due October 2014; interest at 5.2% $ 299.3 $ 305.1
Note payable due in installments to 2020; interest at 5.5% 2.2 2.5
301.5 307.6
Less:
Current portion (0.3) (0.3)
Deferred financing costs (0.9) (1.0)
$ 300.3 $ 306.3

Operating loans

The Company has $530 million in revolving lines of credit, of which $51.2 million (net of deferred charges of $5.4 million) was drawn as at March 31, 2012 (December 31, 2011 - nil). Deferred financing costs of $5.7 million are included in other assets at December 31, 2011. As at March 31, 2012, letters of credit in the amount of $35.3 million have been issued under these facilities.

The $500 million committed facility, the $25 million demand line of credit dedicated to letters of credit facility and the US$300 million senior notes are secured by the Company's assets. A $5 million line of credit, which is available to a joint venture, is secured by the joint venture's current assets.

5. Other liabilities

March 31, 2012 December 31, 2011
Post-retirement $ 200.3 $ 177.9
Reforestation 82.5 70.5
Decommissioning 14.5 14.6
Other 26.7 26.0
$ 324.0 $ 289.0

6. 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 $9.0 million for the three months ended March 31, 2012 (three months ended March 31, 2011 - $8.4 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:

March 31, 2012 December 31, 2011
Projected benefit obligations $ (1,152.1) $ (1,097.8)
Fair value of plan assets 969.8 938.8
Deficit $ (182.3) $ (159.0)
Represented by
Pension surplus1 $ 18.0 $ 18.9
Post-retirement obligations2 (200.3) (177.9)
$ (182.3) $ (159.0)

1. Included in other assets.

2. Included in other liabilities.

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

March 31, 2012 December 31, 2011
Discount rate on obligation 4.75% 5.00%
Expected rate of return on plan assets 6.50% 6.50%
Rate of increase in future compensation 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 gain (loss) on employee future benefits, included in comprehensive earnings, as follows:

January 1 to March 31
2012 2011
Actuarial gain (loss) $ (18.5) $ 41.5
Tax recovery (provision) on actuarial gain (loss) 4.6 (10.2)
$ (13.9) $ 31.3

7. Other income (expense)

January 1 to March 31
2012 2011
Foreign exchange loss - net $ (2.4) $ (4.4)
Gain on asset sales 0.9 -
Other - net 1.9 0.8
$ 0.4 $ (3.6)

8. Tax provision

The Company's effective tax rate on earnings from continuing operations is as follows:

January 1 to March 31
2012 2011
Amount % Amount %
Income taxes at statutory rates $ 5.1 25.0 $ (9.0) (26.5)
Non taxable amounts (0.8) (3.9) (5.1) (14.9)
Rate differentials between jurisdictions and on specified activities 0.9 4.3 (0.3) (0.9)
Recognized (unrecognized) tax assets (1.5) (7.3) 0.4 1.1
Other 0.1 0.4 (0.1) (0.2)
Tax recovery (provision) $ 3.8 18.5 $ (14.1) (41.4)

9. 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.

10. 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.

January 1 to March 31
2012 2011
From
continuing
operations
After
discontinued
operations
From
continuing
operations
After
discontinued
operations
Earnings
Basic $ (16.7) $ (16.7) $ 19.9 $ 18.9
Share option expense 7.2 7.2 22.9 22.9
Equity settled share option adjustment (2.0) (2.0) (2.3) (2.3)
Diluted $ (11.5) $ (11.5) $ 40.5 $ 39.5
Weighted average number of shares
Basic 42,850,537 42,850,537 42,836,143 42,836,143
Share options 409,369 409,369 572,217 572,217
Diluted 43,259,906 43,259,906 43,408,360 43,408,360
Earnings per share (dollars)
Basic $ (0.39) $ (0.39) $ 0.46 $ 0.44
Diluted $ (0.39) $ (0.39) $ 0.46 $ 0.44

11. 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. Credits may be used until the GT Program end date of March 31, 2012. For the three months ended March 31, 2012, the Company received $15.6 million under the GT Program (year ended December 31, 2011 - $36.9 million; year ended December 31, 2010 - $1.6 million). At March 31, 2012, $34.3 million is included in accounts receivable related to expenditures under the GT Program.

12. Segmented information

Lumber Panels Pulp &
paper
Corporate
& other
Consolidated
January 1, 2012 to March 31, 2012
Sales at market prices
To external customers $ 379.2 $ 103.2 $ 198.6 $ - $ 681.0
To other segments 18.6 1.7 - -
$ 397.8 $ 104.9 $ 198.6 $ -
EBITDA 1 $ (6.2) $ 5.4 $ 30.3 $ (11.2) $ 18.3
Amortization (22.3) (4.1) (13.3) (0.6) (40.3)
Operating earnings (28.5) 1.3 17.0 (11.8) (22.0)
Interest expense (2.5) (0.8) (1.5) - (4.8)
Exchange gain on long-term debt - - - 5.9 5.9
Other income (expense) 1.5 - (1.6) 0.5 0.4
Earnings from continuing operations before tax provision $ (29.5) $ 0.5 $ 13.9 $ (5.4) $ (20.5)
January 1, 2011 to March 31, 2011
Sales at market prices
To external customers $ 389.7 $ 88.6 $ 208.7 $ - $ 687.0
To other segments 21.5 2.3 - -
$ 411.2 $ 90.9 $ 208.7 $ -
EBITDA 1 $ 55.2 $ 3.6 $ 46.9 $ (26.1) $ 79.6
Amortization (22.3) (3.9) (17.8) (0.7) (44.7)
Operating earnings 32.9 (0.3) 29.1 (26.8) 34.9
Interest expense (2.6) (0.8) (1.4) - (4.8)
Exchange gain on long-term debt - - - 7.5 7.5
Other income (expense) (2.5) (0.2) (1.8) 0.9 (3.6)
Earnings from continuing operations before tax provision $ 27.8 $ (1.3) $ 25.9 $ (18.4) $ 34.0

1. Non GAAP measure: EBITDA is defined as operating earnings plus amortization.

The geographic distribution of external sales is as follows:

January 1 to March 311
2012 2011
United States $ 317.7 $ 340.4
Canada 169.5 156.0
China 116.0 103.9
Other Asia 48.9 54.7
Other 28.9 32.0
$ 681.0 $ 687.0

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

13. Contingency

On January 18, 2011 the United States initiated arbitration with Canada under the Softwood Lumber Agreement ("SLA") over its concern that the province of British Columbia ("B.C.") has misapplied or altered its timber pricing rules and as a result has charged too low a price for certain timber harvested on public lands in the B.C. interior. In August 2011 the United States filed a detailed statement of case with the arbitration panel and the parties exchanged pleadings in the fourth quarter of 2011. A hearing before the arbitration panel took place in February 2012 and a final decision is expected in the second half of 2012.

The Company believes that Canada and B.C. are complying with their obligations under the SLA and intends to cooperate fully with the B.C. and Canadian governments in defending this claim. The results of the arbitration process are not determinable at this point in time and accordingly no provision has been recorded by the Company.

Contact Information

  • 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 (FAX)
    www.westfraser.com