Weyerhaeuser Company reported first quarter net earnings to common shareholders of $90 million, or 17 cents per diluted share, on net sales of $1.7 billion. This compares with net earnings of $183 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, on net sales from continuing operations of $1.7 billion for the same period last year.
Excluding after-tax charges of $9 million for special items, the company reported net earnings of $99 million, or 19 cents per diluted share for the first quarter. This compares with net earnings from continuing operations before special items of $143 million for the same period last year and $145 million for fourth quarter 2014.
“We are pleased with our first quarter performance in Timberlands and Wood Products, as operational excellence efforts resulted in higher earnings compared with the fourth quarter in both businesses despite weaker market conditions,” said Doyle Simons, president and chief executive officer. “Our Cellulose Fibers business was challenged by a strengthening U.S. dollar, West Coast port disruptions, and a slower than expected restart of our largest fluff mill after a scheduled maintenance outage in the quarter. We repurchased over $250 million of common shares in the quarter, and have now completed 65 percent of our authorization. We look forward to an improving spring selling season and continue to expect measured growth in U.S. housing starts.”
1Q 2015 Performance — Cost efficiencies from operational excellence initiatives across the segment more than offset lower Western log realizations. In the South, seasonal decreases in fee harvest volumes were partially offset by seasonally lower silviculture expenses. Earnings from the disposition of nonstrategic timberlands increased by $14 million compared with fourth quarter 2014.
2Q 2015 Outlook — Weyerhaeuser expects lower earnings from the Timberlands segment in the second quarter due to a decrease in realizations for Western logs and lower earnings from the disposition of nonstrategic timberlands.
1Q 2015 Performance — Manufacturing costs improved due to operational excellence initiatives across our system, and higher production volumes for engineered wood products. These improvements were partially offset by lower average sales realizations across all product lines.
2Q 2015 Outlook — Weyerhaeuser expects significantly higher earnings from the Wood Products segment in the second quarter. The company anticipates seasonally higher sales volumes across all product lines and average sales realizations for lumber and oriented strand board comparable to the first quarter. The company also expects lower Western log costs and lower per unit manufacturing costs.
1Q 2015 Performance — Average pulp sales realizations and volumes decreased, and costs increased primarily due to a scheduled maintenance outage at our largest fluff mill. While the restart took longer than anticipated, the mill is now running well. The West Coast port disruptions resulted in an extensive production curtailment in our liquid packaging operation and higher transportation and warehousing costs throughout the segment.
2Q 2015 Outlook — Weyerhaeuser expects lower earnings from the Cellulose Fibers segment in the second quarter. The company anticipates lower average pulp sales realizations. Costs will increase due to an extended pulp mill outage for scheduled maintenance and installation of energy-related capital improvements.
Due to a strengthening U.S. dollar, first quarter 2015 earnings include a $29 million pre-tax charge ($0.04 per share after-tax) for noncash foreign exchange losses on debt held by our Canadian entity.