WEYERHAEUSER CO. $63 (New York symbol WY; Conservative Growth Portfolio, Resources sector; WSSF Rating: Average) is a leading forest products company. It owns or leases 36 million acres of timberland in the United States, and Canada.
We normally advise investors to avoid forest product stocks, due to high labor costs, excessive environmental regulations and international trade disputes.
However, we feel Weyerhaeuser is different. Its large land holdings are worth around $41 a Weyerhaeuser share, and its U.S. and Canadian operations will benefit from a new deal between the two countries to settle a dispute over tariffs on Canadian lumber exports to the U.S. In fact, the company’s Canadian unit will probably get back $300 million of the $377 million in extra duties that it paid in the past five years.
The company is taking steps to improve its profitability as high interest rates slow demand for new homes and lumber, including selling some slower-growing operations like its fine-paper businesses.
Due to restructuring charges and a goodwill writedown, Weyerhaeuser lost $2.36 a share (total $580 million) from continuing operations in the three months ended March 26, 2006. If you disregard all one-time items, it would have earned $0.75 a share, down 27.2% from $1.03 a year earlier. Revenue was unchanged at $5.4 billion.
Strong demand for lumber after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed Weyerhaeuser’s stock price up to $76 in April 2006, but it has moved down lately. It now trades at 14.7 times its likely 2006 profits of $4.29 a share. The $2.00 dividend yields 3.2%.
Weyerhaeuser is a hold.
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