Rayonier Inc. (NYSE:RYN) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript

Rayonier Inc. (NYSE:RYN) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript February 2, 2023

Operator: Welcome, and thank you for joining Rayonier's Fourth Quarter and Year-end 2022 Teleconference Call. Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. Now I will turn the meeting over to Mr. Collin Mings, Vice President, Capital Markets and Strategic Planning.

Collin Mings: Thank you, and good morning. Welcome to Rayonier's investor teleconference covering fourth quarter earnings. Our earnings statements and financial supplement were released yesterday afternoon and are available on our website at rayonier.com. I would like to remind you that in these presentations, we include forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of federal securities laws. Our earnings release and Forms 10-K and 10-Q filed with the SEC with some of the factors that cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements we may make. They are also referenced on Page 2 of our financial supplement. Throughout these presentations, we will also discuss non-GAAP financial measures, which are defined and reconciled to the nearest GAAP measures in our earnings release and supplemental materials. With that, let's start our teleconference with opening comments from Dave Nunes, our CEO. Dave?

David Nunes: Thanks, Colin. Good morning, everyone. First, I'll make some high-level comments before turning it over to Mark McHugh, President and Chief Financial Officer, to review our consolidated financial results. Then we'll ask Doug Long, Executive Vice President and Chief Resource Officer, to comment on our U.S. and New Zealand timber results. And following the review of our timber segments, Mark will discuss our Real Estate results as well as our outlook for 2023. We are pleased with our overall financial performance in '22, particularly given the challenging macroeconomic backdrop that developed during the course of the year. For the full year, we generated GAAP earnings per share of $0.73, pro forma earnings per share of $0.62 and adjusted EBITDA of $314 million.

Notably, our three timber segments generated total adjusted EBITDA of $275 million, representing the highest ever result for the company and roughly 8% above the previous record achieved in 2021. Despite deteriorating market conditions towards the end of 2022, in response to rising interest rates, growing macroeconomic uncertainty and a slowing U.S. housing market, we still achieved record full year adjusted EBITDA in both our Southern and Pacific Northwest Timber segments. We believe this underscores the relative strength of our timber markets and the ability of our team to navigate an ever-evolving operating environment. The strong full year results in our U.S. timber operations were partially offset by lower adjusted EBITDA versus the prior year in our New Zealand Timber segment, which contended with slower economic activity in China, as well as higher operating costs.

Meanwhile, in our Real Estate segment, we achieved solid retention that were generally in line with our expectations entering the year, reflecting our continued focus on optimizing the value of our portfolio through the sale of rural and recreational properties, land entitled for development and nonstrategic holdings. As Mark will discuss in greater detail later in the call, we are providing full year 2023 adjusted EBITDA guidance of $280 million to $320 million. This is a wider range than we've historically provided for full year adjusted EBITDA guidance, which reflects heightened macroeconomic uncertainty as well as log pricing headwinds entering the year. That said, we've seen some recent signs of end market improvement, including increased wood products pricing, a more stable interest rate environment and improving homebuilder sentiment which suggests that timber market conditions may be poised to rebound to some extent, which is reflected in the higher end of our guidance range.

Stepping back to the fourth quarter, we generated adjusted EBITDA of $68 million and pro forma earnings per share of $0.11. Fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA increased 36% versus the prior year quarter as stronger results in our Pacific Northwest and New Zealand Timber segments as well as a higher contribution from our Real Estate segment more than offset a slightly lower contribution from our Southern Timber segment. Drilling down deeper further on our operating segments. Our Southern Timber segment generated adjusted EBITDA of $33 million in the fourth quarter, which was 1% below the prior year period. While weighted average net stumpage realizations increased by 7% versus the prior year quarter, this was more than offset by an 11% decrease in harvest volumes.

In general, our Southern Timber segment continued to benefit from our concentration in some of the most tensioned log markets across the U.S. South, although both demand and pricing were impacted late in the fourth quarter, as market conditions deteriorated. In our Pacific Northwest Timber segment, we achieved fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA of $16 million, up 18% from the prior year quarter. The year-over-year increase was attributable to 17% higher weighted average log prices and a 3% increase in harvest volumes. Our operations in the region continued to benefit throughout the fourth quarter from favorable supply-demand dynamics as domestic lumber markets, export markets and pulpwood markets competed for a limited supply of logs. Turning to our New Zealand Timber segment.

Fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA of $14 million increased 39% from the prior year period due to increased carbon credit sales and 7% higher harvest volumes, which more than offset lower log pricing amid continued export market headwinds. In our Real Estate segment, we generated adjusted EBITDA of $14 million in the fourth quarter, up significantly from $3 million in the prior year period. The improved results were driven by increased sales in the Wildlight development project north of Jacksonville, Florida, as well as a higher number of rural acres sold and higher per acre value realizations versus the prior year period. Despite the increase in interest rates as compared to a year ago, demand for rural land remains strong as we enter 2023, and we continue to be pleased by the favorable momentum in both our Wildlight and Heartwood development projects.

As previously announced, in the fourth quarter, we also completed the acquisition of approximately 137,800 acres of high-quality commercial timberlands located in Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana for an aggregate purchase price of $454 million from Manulife Investment Management, a leading timberland investment manager. The acquired properties are well stocked in highly productive timberlands located in some of the strongest timber markets in the U.S. South. We are pleased to have successfully integrated these properties into our portfolio and have been encouraged by the customer response to our initial timber sales from these assets. Looking ahead, we're very excited about managing these timberlands for long-term value creation. And with that, let me turn it over to Mark for more details on our fourth quarter financial results.

Mark McHugh: Thanks, Dave. Let's start on Page 5 with our financial highlights. Sales for the fourth quarter totaled $245 million, while operating income was $44 million and net income attributable to Rayonier was $33 million or $0.22 per share. On a pro forma basis, net income was $16 million or $0.11 per share. Pro forma items in the fourth quarter included $16.6 million of income from large dispositions and a $0.4 million favorable adjustment to a timber write-off taken in the third quarter. Adjusted EBITDA was $68 million in the fourth quarter, up from $50 million in the prior year period. On the bottom of Page 5, we provide an overview of our capital resources and liquidity. Our cash available for distribution, or CAD, for the full year was $189 million versus $208 million in the prior year period.

The decrease was primarily driven by lower adjusted EBITDA, higher cash taxes and higher capital expenditures, partially offset by lower cash interest paid. As previously discussed, cash taxes were elevated in 2022 due to the required timing of estimated tax payments for our New Zealand subsidiary, following the full utilization of its NOLs. A reconciliation of CAD to cash provided by operating activities and other GAAP measures is provided on Page 8 of the financial supplement. During the fourth quarter, we closed on the previously announced 5-year $250 million incremental term loan through the farm credit system to partially fund the U.S. South acquisitions that Dave discussed. The company also entered into an interest rate swap agreement to fix $100 million of the term loan at an all-in effective cost of approximately 4.6% net of estimated patronage refunds.

Additionally, in the fourth quarter, we replaced our prior aftermarket, or ATM, equity offering program with a new $300 million ATM program. During the quarter, we raised approximately $30 million through the new ATM program at an average price of $35.51 per share. We continue to view the ATM as a cost-effective tool to opportunistically raise equity capital and fund capital allocation priorities. In sum, we closed the fourth quarter with $114 million of cash and $1.5 billion of debt. At year-end, our weighted average cost of debt was approximately 3% and the weighted average maturity on our debt portfolio was approximately 6 years with no significant debt maturities until 2026. Our net debt of approximately $1.4 billion represented 22% of our enterprise value based on our closing stock price at the end of the year.

I'll now turn the call over to Doug to provide a more detailed review of our timber results.

Airbnb, Rent, House, Real Estate
Airbnb, Rent, House, Real Estate

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Douglas Long: Thanks, Mark. Good morning. Let's start on Page 9 with the Southern Timber segment. Adjusted EBITDA in the fourth quarter of $33 million was 1% below the prior year quarter, driven by lower harvest volumes, largely offset by higher net stumpage pricing, lower leased land report station costs and higher non-timber income. Volume decreased 11% versus the prior year quarter as macroeconomic headwinds led to softer demand in certain markets, particularly for pulpwood. Average sawlog stumpage pricing was $34 per ton, an 11% increase compared to the prior year period. The improved pricing reflected healthy demand from sawmills across most of our operating areas, despite a significant decline in lumber prices relative to the prior year period.

Meanwhile, pulpwood net stumpage pricing decreased 1% to roughly $21 per ton versus prior year quarter, primarily due to weaker end market demand and an increase in available supply as a result of drier weather conditions. Overall, weighted average stumpage prices in the fourth quarter improved 7% versus the prior year quarter to nearly $26 per ton. Entering 2023, we have seen some decline in both sawtimber and pulpwood pricing compared to the fourth quarter as our customers are approaching the New Year cautiously, given the slowdown in residential construction activity and other macroeconomic challenges. Notwithstanding these near-term headwinds, we believe that the longer-term outlook for Southern timber prices remains favorable. Specifically, we expect that lower lumber pricing will lead to additional sawmill curtailment in British Columbia, which should allow the U.S. South to continue to capture a greater market share of North American lumber production.

Importantly, we also anticipate that the Southern Timber markets with more favorable supply-demand dynamics and corresponding price elasticity will benefit disproportionately from this transition relative to the U.S. South as a whole. Moving to our Pacific Northwest Timber segment on Page 10. Adjusted EBITDA of $16 million was 18% higher than the prior year quarter. The year-over-year increase was driven by the sale of a timber reservation to a conservation group. Higher net stumpage realizations, lower costs and higher volumes, partially offset by lower non-timber income. Volume increased 3% in the fourth quarter as compared to the prior year period, primarily due to labor strikes in the region, causing a reduction in supply of pulpwood and residuals on the market.

Turning to pricing. At nearly $112 per ton, our average delivered sawlog price in the fourth quarter was up 14% from the prior year period, primarily driven by strong demand from this lumber mills as well as a favorable species mix with a higher proportion of Douglas for volume. Meanwhile, fourth quarter pulpwood pricing of $66 per ton increased 80% over the prior year quarter, reflecting strong end-market demand, coupled with supply constraints due to fewer residuals and increased competition from mills for limited supply of smaller-sized logs. However, similar to the U.S. South, in Pacific Northwest, we have seen declines in both sawtimber and pulpwood pricing in early 2023 as compared to the relatively strong pricing realizations we achieved throughout 2022.

A slowdown in residential construction activity has weighted lumber prices and, in turn, sawtimber prices, while pulpwood pricing has retreated from the exceptionally high levels achieved at the end of 2022 due to softening demand as well as the temporary curtailment of a mill in the region. Although current market conditions are more challenging, we believe our nimble approach to operational decision-making, the relative strength of our markets and the optionality offered by our export market capabilities position us well to adapt ongoing changes in the operating environment. Moving to New Zealand. Page 11 shows results in key operating metrics for our New Zealand Timber segment. Adjusted EBITDA in the fourth quarter of $14 million was $4 million above the prior year quarter.

The increase in adjusted EBITDA compared to the prior year quarter was driven by increased carbon credit sales and higher harvest volumes, partially offset by lower net stumpage realizations and unfavorable foreign exchange impacts. Average delivered export sawtimber prices of $111 per ton declined 16% as compared to the prior year quarter, reflecting reduced demand from China. While our New Zealand export business faced a number of headwinds last year, we're optimistic that the recent relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures and fiscal support of the property sector by the Chinese government will lead to a gradual increase in export log demand and pricing versus the prior year. In addition, Chinese port inventories were at relatively normalized levels heading into the Lunar New Year, which coupled with ongoing supply side constraints, including a reduced flow of European salvage logs into China and the ongoing Russian log export ban provide us with further optimism that the export market will gradually improve as the year progresses.

On the cost side, we expect the decline in freight rates versus the elevated levels seen in 2022 should contribute to improved margins year-over-year. Shifting to the New Zealand domestic market. Fourth quarter average delivered sawlog prices declined 20% from the prior year period to $65 per ton, largely driven by a sharp decline in the New Zealand dollar, U.S. dollar exchange rate. Excluding foreign exchange impacts, domestic sawtimber prices decreased 5%, reflecting weaker domestic market demand due to reduced competition from export markets, as well as higher mortgage rates negatively impacting the demand for construction materials. Domestic pulpwood prices in New Zealand were likewise impacted by foreign exchange rates, declined 24% on a U.S. dollar basis compared to the prior year quarter.

Excluding foreign exchange impacts, domestic pulpwood prices declined 9%, reflecting less competition from export markets for lower quality logs. While log markets in the New Zealand remained challenging in the fourth quarter, non-timber income in New Zealand, which primarily reflects carbon credit sales, continue to bolster our financial results during $9.1 million of revenue in the quarter. Going forward, we plan to remain a optimistic in our sale of carbon credits, depending on carbon credit market conditions and our pricing outlook. Lastly, in our Trading segment, we posted a slight operating profit in the fourth quarter. As a reminder, our trading activities typically drive low margins and are primarily designed to provide additional economies of scale to our fee timber export business.

I'll now turn it over to Mark to cover our real estate results.

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