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

Rayonier Inc. ( RYN)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

January 24, 2012 2:00 p.m. ET

Executives

Hans E. Vanden Noort – Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Paul G. Boynton – President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer

Jack Kriesel – Senior Vice President, Performance Fibers

Lynn Wilson – Vice President, U.S. Forest Resources

Charles Margiotta - Senior Vice President, Real Estate President

Analysts

Michael Roxland - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Chip Dillon - Vertical Research Partners

Steve Chercover - D. A. Davidson & Co.

Mark Wilde - Deutsche Bank

Joshua Barber - Stifel Nicolaus

Paul Quinn - RBC Capital Markets

Mark Weintraub - Buckingham Research

Presentation

Operator

Welcome and thank you for joining Rayonier's Fourth Quarter 2011 Teleconference Call. (Operator instructions) Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objection, you may disconnect at this time.

Now I'll turn the meeting over to your host, Mr. Hans Vanden Noort, CFO. You may begin.

Hans Vanden Noort

Thank you and good afternoon. Welcome to Rayonier's investment teleconference covering fourth quarter earnings. Our earnings statements and presentation materials were released this morning and are available on our website at Rayonier.com.

I'd like to remind you that in these presentations we include forward-looking statements made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of the Federal Securities laws. Our earnings release as well as our Form 10-K filed with the SEC lists some of the factors, which may cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements we may make. They are also referenced on Page 2 of our presentation material.

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.

Now at the same time we've maintained discipline in our land sales program, reducing the acreage sold and focusing on properties with more resilient values such as rural and recreation and conservation lands. Continued strong demand for our high purity cellulose specialties drove another record year in performance fibers.

With our current volumes fully committed, we are working closely with our customers to provide a premium product which is a critical part of their value chain. Now, as such, we're making excellent progress on the 190,000 ton expansion in Jesup and we're on pace for completion by mid-2013. While we recognize the uncertainty still facing the domestic and global economies, including the housing market, we see ongoing operating momentum in our businesses that we anticipate will drive another great year in 2012.

With that, let me turn it back over to Hans for a review of the financials.

Hans Vanden Noort

Thanks, Paul. Let's start of Page 3 with our financial highlights. Overall, we had a very solid fourth quarter, sales totaling $388 million, while pro forma operating income totaled $88 million and pro forma net income was $60 million or $0.48 per share. We had one special item this quarter, which was a $6.5 million non-cash charge for estimated future clean-up costs at our former Port Angeles mill site.

Last quarter, we also had one special item which was a $16 million benefit from reversing a tax reserve established back in 2009 relating to the alternative fuel mixture credit. Two thousand and ten had two special items; a fourth quarter $24 million tax benefit from the cellulosic biofuel producers credit and a first quarter $12 million gain on sale of a portion of our interest in our New Zealand joint venture. All of these items have been excluded to arrive at the pro forma amounts used for the comparisons throughout this call.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com

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