Western Announces First Quarter 2024 Results

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May 7, 2024 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Western Forest Products Inc. (TSX: WEF) (“Western” or the “Company”) reported a net loss of $8.0 million in the first quarter of 2024, as compared to a net loss of $17.7 million in the first quarter of 2023, and a net loss of $14.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Adjusted EBITDA was negative $4.2 million in the first quarter of 2024, as compared to negative $5.0 million in the first quarter of 2023, and negative $1.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2023.

First Quarter 2024 Financial and Operational Summary

  • Lumber shipments of 131 million board feet (versus 170 million board feet in Q1 2023)
  • Japan lumber shipments of 29 million board feet (versus 15 million board feet in Q1 2023)
  • Specialty lumber mix of 61% (versus 40% in Q1 2023)
  • Average lumber selling price of $1,351 per mfbm (versus $1,241 per mfbm in Q1 2023), benefiting from a stronger sales mix, but offset by lower lumber prices

Indigenous Relationships

  • Completed the sale of a 34% ownership interest in the newly formed La-kwa sa muqw Forestry Limited Partnership (“LFLP”) for gross proceeds of $35.9 million to the Tlowitsis, We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum and K’ómoks First Nations. The LFLP is comprised of certain assets and liabilities of Western’s former Mid-Island Forest Operation, including the newly-established Tree Farm Licence (“TFL”) 64, created through the subdivision of Block 2 from TFL 39. The current allowable annual cut (“AAC”) of TFL 64 represents approximately 16% of Western’s total AAC.
  • In collaboration with the ‘Namgis First Nation, we released a draft of the first Forest Landscape Plan (“FLP”) in British Columbia (“BC”) for public comment. The FLP covers approximately 89% of the area of TFL 37 and offers the opportunity for greater certainty for a stable long-term fibre supply within TFL 37. Western’s current AAC in TFL 37 represents approximately 14% of our total AAC.

Accelerating the Transition to Higher Value Products

  • Completed and commissioned the first continuous dry kiln on the BC Coast at our Saltair sawmill. The new continuous kiln, which has a capacity of approximately 70 million board feet, will support increased production of higher valued products and also contributes to our environmental objectives by reducing energy consumption.
  • Advanced permitting related to two previously announced continuous dry kilns, one at our Duke Point sawmill in Nanaimo, BC and one at our Value-Added Division in Chemainus, BC. Each kiln will have a capacity of approximately 70 million board feet and we expect to complete these two additional kilns by the end of 2025.

Balance Sheet and Cash Flow

  • Near-term priority is maintaining a strong balance sheet and financial flexibility
  • Ended the quarter with liquidity of $142.1 million and a net debt to capitalization ratio of 13%
  • Expect an income tax refund of approximately $23 million in the second or third quarter of 2024
  • Reducing capital expenditure spending to approximately $50 million in 2024. This includes approximately $13 million of spending related to two new continuous dry kilns, which are expected to be completed over 2024 and 2025 at an estimated total cost of approximately $35 million.
  • Cumulative duties of US Dollar (“USD”) $168.8 million ($228.5 million) held in trust by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as at March 31, 2024, or approximately $0.53 per share on an after-tax basis

Other Updates

  • Announced the indefinite curtailment of our Alberni Pacific Division facility

Market Outlook

We are seeing some positive signs of improving demand and prices in certain lumber products relative to the first quarter of 2024. However, lumber demand and prices in the second half of 2024 will vary based on product lines and be dependent on global macroeconomic conditions.

Demand and prices for Cedar timber and premium appearance products are expected to remain stable. Demand and price for Cedar decking products are firming up as we head into the spring, while demand for Cedar trim and fencing products is expected to remain soft until market inventory rebalances.

In Japan, we anticipate quarterly lumber volumes to remain near those achieved in the first quarter of 2024. Lumber prices are expected to remain stable but may be impacted by further weakness in the Japanese yen to USD exchange rate.

Demand for our Industrial lumber products is generally expected to remain stable over the near-term. North American demand and prices for our commodity products should marginally improve in the second quarter of 2024 but are expected to remain volatile through the second half of 2024. In China, lumber demand and prices may slightly weaken as we progress through 2024.

We expect sawlog markets to follow conditions in the lumber markets, while residual chip pricing is expected to slightly improve in the near-term and will continue to follow the northern bleached softwood kraft price to China.

Link to full report

Source: Western Forest Products