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Rayonier's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

With that, let's start our teleconference with opening comments from Paul Boynton, President and CEO. Paul?

Paul Boynton

Thank you, Hans, and good afternoon, everyone. I'd like to make a few overall comments before turning it back over to Hans to review our financial results. Then we're going to have Lynn Wilson, Vice President, Forest Resources comment on our timber results. Following our timber review, Charlie Margiotta, Senior Vice President, Real Estate, will discuss our land sales results. Finally, Jack Kriesel, Senior Vice President, Performance Fibers, will take us through the results of our cellulose fibers business.

Let me start by saying we had a great year in 2011. We generated strong operating cash flow, well above our dividend, and increased pro forma earnings 42% to $2.11 per share. We believe that 32% total return on our shareholder realized last year reflects both the increasing value of our businesses as well as the strategic priority we placed on growing the dividend, which we raised 11% to $0.40 per share beginning in the third quarter, or $1.60 per year.

I am particularly pleased with our timberland acquisitions in 2011. The 320,000 acres of highly productive timberlands we acquired served dynamic end markets in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma. They also increased our geographic diversity and upgrade the quality of our portfolio. We see tremendous value in growing our timberland base, particularly with this rather young age class acquisition as we position ourselves for improved markets in the years to come.

Now throughout 2011, the team did a great job of taking advantage of the specific opportunities in our markets to capture cash-flow. For example, we took advantage of strong Asian export markets. We leveraged the proximity of our coastal Washington timberland to five ports and adjusted our harvest plans to meet the growing Chinese demand. Our New Zealand joint venture also significantly increased log sales to China. While this market began to ease in the fourth quarter, we are seeing signs of strengthening and I expect it to be an important source of demand over the long term.

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