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Weyerhaeuser Easily Tops Estimates, Offers Cautious Guidance

Forest products maker


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said earnings for the fourth quarter came in better than expected, but the company was cautious about its outlook for the first quarter of 2001.

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The Tacoma, Wash., company reported earnings for the quarter of $194 million, or 88 cents a share, 10 cents above the 78 cents projected by a consensus of 11 analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

. In the same period in 1999, the company made $174 million, or 79 cents a share.

Analysts had lowered their fourth-quarter forecast for wood and paper producers due to lowered prices, higher energy costs and unfavorable foreign exchange rates, but not Weyerhaeurser. However, in its earnings announcement today, the company warned that it too would suffer in the next quarter because of the slowing U.S. economy and weaker Asian markets.

Weyerhaeuser also said it expects earnings from its timberlands sector, its core business, to be down slightly in the first quarter 2001. Fourth quarter earnings in timberlands totaled $139 million, down from $143 million for the same quarter in 1999. However, net sales for the fourth quarter rose to $4 billion, compared with $3.6 billion last year.

The company's shares were recently trading up 6 cents, or 0.1%, at $48.38.