Examining the changes in timberland ownership and what those changes might mean.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Weyco Earnings and Timberland Sale
Weyerhaeuser finally announced the results of the sale of the 82,000 acre block in SW Washington. The buyer is HTRG which payed about $200 million or $2,439 per acre. Weyerhaeuser says "While the land sold is high-quality, productive timberlands, it no longer fits our long-term strategic plan." Apparently the the species composition is low to Doug Fir, which is managements focus, and that is why this particular block was selected for sale. I suspect that the fact that the sale brought in $200 million with $150 million going to the bottom line was the real critical driver behind the sale. It has been a tough time for Weyco and they need to convince investors that they can pay a consistent and reliable dividend. Read the news release here.
Weyco also posted earnings this morning. Net earnings for Q4 were $171 million which illustrates just how significant the $150 million gain on the land sale is (note that the gain will not show up in the financials till Q1 of 2011). Earnings for the year were about $4.00 per share but a full 83% of that came from tax adjustments resulting from the conversion to the REIT.
It looks as if Weyerhaeuser has turned the corner. It has been hard to analyze the numbers due to all of the asset sales, charges and REIT conversion but it does seem that they are now actually profitable. The timberland segment is slowly improving - mainly from improved stumpage prices in the Northwest. Wood products remain the major earnings drag but losses have been reduced somewhat. They have contained the bleeding from the Real Estate segment and are producing solid profits from the Cellulose Fibers group. Here are links to the earnings announcement and some supporting slides for the conference call.
Land sales will remain the ace in the hole to assure dividends but I am going to guess that Weyerhaeuser will play it sparingly. --Brian