Okay, I've been "out-of-pocket" off hunting for caribou and moose in Newfoundland (beautiful country!) for the last week and a half. Let's see what has happened since I've been gone.
Hancock sold 10,000 acres:
of Coosa River timberland for Alabama's Forever Wild Land Trust program. "The Forever Wild Program was established in 1992 by constitutional amendment to provide for the purchase of public recreational lands. Since its inception, the program has purchased 133,000 acres of land for general recreation, nature preserves and additions to Wildlife Management Areas and state parks. To learn more about the Forever Wild Program, please visit http://www.alabamaforeverwild.com/."
"The Hancock Timber Resource Group has a long history of working with communities, states and conservation groups to protect environmentally sensitive land. To date, our Sensitive Lands Program has protected approximately 320,000 acres across the United States," said Mike Wolf,director of North American Forest Operations, Hancock Timber Resource Group. Read more about it.
Speculation on Weyerhaeuser's Conversion to a REIT:
I guess this speculation is a long way from new news but there is a very informative article in Barrons. Following are a few quotes from the article (as I write, WEYCO stock is trading at about $74/share).
"BASED ON RECENT PRIVATE-MARKET transactions, Zaret, a former forester, values Weyerhaeuser's timber assets at $13 billion, or $59 a share -- just a bit under the company's stock-market value of $14.6 billion. At current prices, that means investors are getting Weyerhaeuser's other assets for a relative pittance. The timber business generated just 5% of last year's sales of $22 billion, but accounted for 64%, or $762 million, of total operating income."
"Wood products, which chipped in almost $8 billion of revenue, is Weyerhaeuser's second-most-valuable business, according to Zaret, who estimates it's worth $3.2 billion, or $15 a share. The real-estate business, whose income Zaret expects to slump 58% in '07, comes in at around $10 a share. In all, the analyst values Weyerhaeuser's parts at $103 a share, some 51% above its current price."
"This tax disadvantage prompts the market to value timber held by publicly traded C corporations at a discount to land held by REITs or private owners. Plum Creek, the largest REIT with more than eight million acres of timberland, trades for 18 times Ebitda, well above the multiple of 10 or 11 for the average paper company. Weyerhaeuser fetches eight times Ebitda."
"Timber companies could get some relief this year from Congress, which is mulling passage of the Timber Revitalization and Economic Enhancement Act. Aimed at enhancing the industry's global competitiveness, it would cut the timber-harvest tax for C corporations by 60%, to 14%."
Read "A Tribute to Timber" in Barrons.
It is a very interesting article that shows the pickle that WEYCO is in. Its tax structure has to change. Either Congress makes changes or WEYCO becomes a REIT.
Pope and Talbot Seeks Financial Protection:
"Pope and Talbot, Inc (Pink Sheets:PTBT) today announced that, in order to address its financial challenges and to support efforts to be a more efficient organization, the company and its U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries have applied for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) of Canada. Pope & Talbot's Board of Directors, in a unanimous decision, directed the company to take this action as the best alternative for the long-term interests of the company, its employees, customers, creditors, business partners and other stakeholders." Read release.