West Fraser reports Q4 earnings of C$118M, up from C$20M a year earlier, on sales up 7.8% at C$833M; full year 2013 earnings up 353% to C$349M; CEO notes 2013 marked company's highest earnings since 2006 on continuing US housing market improvement

VANCOUVER, British Columbia , February 13, 2014 (press release) – West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (TSX:WFT) today reported earnings of $118 million or $1.37 per share on sales of $833 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 and earnings of $349 million or $4.07 per share, on sales of $3,474 million for 2013. Earnings per share figures for the current and prior periods have been adjusted to reflect a stock dividend paid January 13, 2014. The stock dividend had the same effect as a two-for-one share split. Fourth quarter earnings include the recognition of a $101 million benefit related to our remaining tax loss carryforwards not previously recognized. Adjusted earnings and adjusted basic EPS as described in the table below remove the effect of this benefit and reflect other adjustments described in the tables referred to in footnote 2 below.

These results compare with previous periods as follows:

($ millions except earnings per 2013 2012
share ("EPS")) Q4 Q3 YTD YTD Q4
Sales 833 878 3,474 3,000 773
EBITDA1 97 113 529 275 75
Operating earnings 30 73 345 123 36
Earnings 118 55 349 77 20
Basic EPS ($) 1.37 0.64 4.07 0.90 0.23
Adjusted Earnings2 50 68 328 128 51
Adjusted basic EPS ($)2 0.58 0.79 3.82 1.50 0.60
1. In this News Release, reference is made to EBITDA (defined as operating earnings plus amortization and restructuring charges). 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 (calculated as set out in the tables described in footnote 2 and Adjusted EPS (collectively, with EBITDA, "these measures")). None of these measures is a generally accepted earnings measure under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS") and none has a standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS. Investors are cautioned that none of these measures should 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 tables titled "Annual Earnings Adjustments for Certain Non-Operational Items" and "Quarterly Earnings Adjustments for Certain Non-Operational Items" in Management's Discussion and Analysis of our 2013 results for details of adjustments.

Operational Results

In the quarter our lumber operations generated operating earnings of $32 million (Q3 - $57 million) and EBITDA of $83 million (Q3 - $83 million). Restructuring charges of $24 million are included in our operating earnings in the quarter, representing costs associated with the planned closure of our Houston, B.C. sawmill. The benefit provided by higher lumber prices and a weaker Canadian dollar was offset by the effect of reduced shipments. Lumber markets weakened late in the quarter as severe weather reduced demand and also affected transportation. Despite prices strengthening for certain lumber grades and dimensions, prices for wide-width SYP lumber declined during the quarter which adversely affected our U.S. lumber results.

The panel segment, which includes plywood, LVL and MDF, generated operating earnings in the quarter of $2 million (Q3 - $6 million) and EBITDA of $6 million (Q3 - $9 million), mostly reflecting reduced plywood shipments due to a seasonal slowdown in the Canadian building industry and weather-related reduced railcar deliveries.

Pulp and paper operations generated operating earnings in the quarter of $13 million (Q3 - $29 million) and EBITDA of $24 million (Q3 - $40 million). Improved NBSK pricing and a weaker Canadian dollar were offset by operational difficulties at our NBSK mills.

Outlook

"We consider that 2013 represents a year of remarkable recovery," said Ted Seraphim, President and CEO. "We achieved our highest earnings since 2006 reflecting a continuing improvement in the U.S. housing market after a prolonged downturn. We are early in the recovery and as such, we expect some volatility, but the overall trend remains positive. We are also experiencing some of the benefits from our ongoing major capital investment program."

Annual Financial Statements and Management's Discussion & Analysis ("MD&A")

The Company's consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2013 and related 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.

Dividend Declared

The Board of Directors of the Company has declared a dividend of $0.07 per share on the Common shares and the Class B Common shares in the capital of the Company, payable on April 4, 2014 to shareholders of record on March 21, 2014.

Advance Notice Policy

Our Board has also adopted an Advance Notice Policy (the "Policy"), which includes a provision that requires advance notice to the Company in circumstances where nominations of persons for election to the board of directors are made by shareholders of the Company other than pursuant to: (i) a proposal made in accordance with the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) (the "Act"); or (ii) a requisition of the shareholders made in accordance with the Act. This type of policy has become quite common for U.S. companies, is becoming more common for Canadian companies and is consistent with the Company's goals of: (i) facilitating orderly and efficient shareholder meetings; (ii) ensuring that all shareholders receive adequate notice of director nominations and sufficient information with respect to all nominees; and (iii) allowing shareholders to register an informed vote.

Among other things, the Policy fixes a deadline by which shareholders of the Company must submit director nominations to our corporate secretary prior to any annual or special meeting of shareholders and sets forth the specific information that a shareholder must include in such notice for an effective nomination to occur. No person will be eligible for election as a director of the Company unless nominated in accordance with the provisions of the Policy.

In the case of an annual meeting of shareholders, notice to the Company must be made not less than 30 nor more than 65 days prior to the date of the annual meeting; provided, however, that in the event that the annual meeting is to be held on a date that is less than 50 days after the date on which the first public announcement of the date of the annual meeting was made by the Company, notice may be made not later than the close of business on the 10th day following such public announcement. In the case of a special meeting of shareholders (which is not also an annual meeting), notice to the Company must be made not later than the close of business on the 15th day following the day on which the first public announcement of the date of the special meeting was made. The Policy is effective and in full force and effect as of the date it was approved.

At our annual and special meeting of shareholders scheduled for April 29, 2014 our shareholders will be asked to approve an amendment to our Articles which will effectively adopt the Policy. If the amendment is not approved at the meeting, the Policy will terminate and be of no further force and effect.

A copy of the Policy will be available under the Company's profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

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.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.