Weyerhaeuser posts $171 million profit
Weyerhaeuser Co. has reported net earnings of $171 million for its fourth quarter of 2010, compared with a loss of $175 million in the same quarter a year ago. Earnings for the quarter include after-tax gains of $119 million from special items. Excluding those items, Weyerhaeuser reported net earnings of $52 million.
Net sales for the forestry company were $1.66 billion, compared with sales of $1.45 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009.
For the full year of 2010, Weyerhaeuser reported net earnings of $1.28 billion on net sales of $6.6 billion. This compares with a net loss of $545 million on net sales of $5.5 billion for the full year of 2009. Earnings for the full year of 2010 included $1.06 billion from income tax adjustments related to Weyerhaeuser’s conversion to a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).
In its wood products division, sales for the fourth quarter of 2010 were $572 million, compared with $510 million a year ago. The segment’s results before special items improved $15 million compared with the third quarter. The fourth quarter included special items of $103 million for asset impairments, closures and restructuring.
In its outlook for the first quarter of 2011, Weyerhaeuser said it anticipates a smaller loss from the segment due to improved operating rates, higher selling prices and continued cost reductions.
In a prepared statement, president and CEO Dan Fulton said: “The record year for our cellulose fibers segment due to strong market conditions and excellent operational performance highlighted our 2010 results. Extremely challenging housing market conditions affected the financial performance of our Timberlands, Wood Products and Real Estate segments. We anticipate these market challenges will continue in 2011. However, I expect better performance due to ongoing operational improvements, which will create cost efficiencies and enhance the relative competitiveness of our businesses."
Pulte Q4 loss widens
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based home builder PulteGroup reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $165 million, compared with a net loss of $117 million in the prior-year quarter. The loss for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2010, includes $196 million in land-related charges and costs associated with organizational restructuring, debt pay-down and other financing amendments.
Consolidated revenue for the fourth quarter totaled $1.2 billion, down 29% from prior-year revenue of $1.7 billion.
"After four years of steep declines, the U.S. housing market continues to show signs of stabilizing, albeit at historically low levels," said Richard J. Dugas Jr., chairman, president and CEO of PulteGroup. "Businesses are once again adding jobs, which directly stimulates buying and, in turn, consumer confidence, both of which are critical to ultimately raising demand for new homes. In fact, we may already be realizing some positive effects as January buyer traffic and sales trends were encouraging, although we’ll have to see if this continues through the selling season and the year."
Fourth-quarter 2010 net new orders were 3,044 homes, down 19% from orders of 3,748 homes in the same period of 2009. PulteGroup ended the quarter with a contract backlog of 3,984 homes, with a constructed value of $1.1 billion. Backlog for the fourth quarter of 2009 was 5,931 homes, valued at $1.6 billion.
For the full year ended Dec. 31, PulteGroup reported a net loss of $1.1 billion, compared with a prior-year net loss of $1.2 billion.
Revenue from home sales for the year totaled $4.4 billion, up 13% from revenue of $3.9 billion in 2009. This increase reflects full-year closings of 17,095, up 14% from the prior year, and a less than 1% increase in average selling price to $259,000. The inclusion of Centex’s operations for the full year of 2010 drove the higher volume, compared with only four-and-a-half months in 2009.
Decking demand projected to grow
The demand for decking products in the United States is expected to grow by 2.7% over the next four years, with the majority of this $6.2 billion forecasted demand falling in the composites category, according to a study just released by the Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.
Wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber decking materials are expected to experience double-digit demand gains through 2014. Composite decking will account for nearly 70% of demand growth in lineal foot terms, according to the report. In addition to its low maintenance requirements, composite decking’s resemblance to wood decking, consumer perception of it as being an environmentally friendly option, and the introduction of hidden fastener systems that facilitate installation will boost demand gains.
Wood decking will continue to account for the majority of decking demand in volume and value terms, although demand for wood decking is forecast to rise only one-half of 1% annually through 2014. While gains will be restrained by competition from composite and plastic decking materials, interest in tropical hardwoods, such as ipe, will provide growth opportunities in the residential building and non-building construction markets.
The residential market accounted for 59% of decking demand in 2009, a lower share than the historical average and indicative of the low level of housing activity that year. Through 2014, decking demand in the residential market is forecast to advance at the most rapid pace of all markets. Rebounding housing completions and improvement and repair expenditures will spur gains. Growth will also be supported by homeowner desire for larger decks. Decking demand in the nonresidential market is projected to rise 2.4% annually through 2014, as rebounding office and commercial construction expenditures drive growth.