Stella-Jones Reports Second Quarter Results

  • Sales of $344.8 million, up 22.7% from $280.9 million last year
  • Solid organic sales growth in core railway tie and utility pole product categories
  • Net income up 9.1% to $28.8 million, compared to $26.4 million last year
  • Diluted EPS of $0.42 versus $0.38 a year ago

MONTREAL, Aug. 8, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Stella-Jones Inc. (TSX: SJ) ("Stella-Jones" or the "Company") today announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2014.

"Solid industry demand for Stella-Jones' core products and the contribution from recent acquisitions led to a strong sales growth in the second quarter of 2014. As railway tie and utility pole replacement programs continue to gain momentum, our proven ability to respond to product and service requirements enables us to further penetrate our markets. As anticipated, higher costs for untreated railway ties had a negative effect on profitability. However, strong sales growth and our continued focus on optimizing our plant network resulted in a year-over-year increase in net income," said Brian McManus, President and Chief Executive Officer.

       
Financial highlights
(in thousands of Canadian dollars, except per share data)
Quarters ended June 30,   Six months ended June 30,
2014   2013   2014   2013
Sales 344,796   280,894   602,294   503,474
Operating income 41,617   40,959   76,352   70,630
Net income for the period 28,821   26,426   51,339   45,183
  Per share - basic ($) 0.42   0.38   0.75   0.66
  Per share - diluted ($) 0.42   0.38   0.74   0.65
Weighted average shares outstanding (basic, in '000s) 68,773   68,680   68,755   68,677

Effective January 1, 2014, the Company's sales of non-pole-quality logs are reported as revenue in the consolidated statement of income in a new product category and are no longer credited to cost of sales. Comparative figures have been restated to comply with the current year's presentation.

SECOND QUARTER RESULTS
Sales reached $344.8 million, up 22.7% from $280.9 million in the same period last year. The operating assets acquired from The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies®("PWP") on November 15, 2013 and from Boatright Railroad Products, Inc. ("Boatright") on May 22, 2014 contributed sales of $12.0 million and $3.7 million, respectively. The conversion effect from fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar, Stella-Jones' reporting currency, versus the U.S. dollar, increased the value of U.S.-dollar denominated sales by about $18.0 million when compared with the previous year. Excluding these factors, sales increased approximately $30.2 million, or 10.8%.

Railway tie sales amounted to $141.5 million, up 18.1% from $119.8 million a year earlier. Excluding sales from the PWP and Boatright assets, as well as the conversion effect, railway tie sales rose approximately $7.7 million, or 6.4%, reflecting solid market demand from replacement programs. Sales of utility poles reached $121.6 million, up from $95.1 million last year. Excluding sales from the PWP assets and the conversion effect, utility pole sales increased $14.0 million, or 14.7%, as a result of larger customer orders for distribution and transmission poles stemming from increased demand from replacement programs and certain special projects. Sales in the residential lumber category totalled $49.4 million, versus $41.3 million a year ago, mainly reflecting solid demand in Western Canada and the United States. Industrial product sales reached $25.1 million, up from $17.0 million last year due to the contribution of the PWP and Boatright assets as well as increased sales of rail-related products. Finally, non-pole-quality log sales amounted to $7.2 million, versus $7.7 million a year ago, as a result of the timing of timber harvesting.

Operating income stood at $41.6 million, or 12.1% of sales, versus $41.0 million, or 14.6% of sales, last year. The decrease as a percentage of sales is mainly due to higher year-over-year costs for untreated railway ties, partially offset by greater efficiencies throughout the Company's plant network. Results for the second quarter of 2014 also include a $1.6 million write-off of certain property, plant and equipment in the United States and acquisition-related costs of $616,000 in connection with the Boatright transaction.

Net income for the second quarter of 2014 increased 9.1% to $28.8 million or $0.42 per share, fully diluted, compared with $26.4 million or $0.38 per share, fully diluted, in the second quarter of 2013.

SIX-MONTH RESULTS
For the six-month period ended June 30, 2014, sales amounted to $602.3 million, versus $503.5 million for the same period in 2013. Acquisitions accounted for total sales of $28.9 million, while the conversion effect from fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar had a positive year-over-year impact of $34.3 million on the value of U.S. dollar denominated sales. Excluding these factors, sales increased approximately $35.7 million, or 7.1%.

Operating income was $76.4 million, or 12.7% of sales, up from $70.6 million, or 14.0% of sales, last year. Net income reached $51.3 million, or $0.74 per share, fully diluted, compared with $45.2 million, or $0.65 per share, fully diluted, a year ago.

FINANCIAL POSITION
As at June 30, 2014, the Company's long-term debt, including the current portion, stood at $456.8 million compared with $407.0 million three months earlier. The variation essentially reflects working capital requirements and the acquisition of Boatright. To partially finance this acquisition, the Company's committed revolving credit facility was increased from $400.0 million to $450.0 million. As at June 30, 2014, an amount of $391.7 million had been drawn against this facility. As a result of this higher debt, Stella-Jones' total debt to total capitalization ratio was 0.43:1 as at June 30, 2014, versus 0.40:1 three months earlier.

QUARTERLY DIVIDEND OF $0.07 PER SHARE
On August 7, 2014, the Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.07 per common share payable on September 26, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business on September 2, 2014.

OUTLOOK
"We expect healthy demand for our core products for the remainder of the year driven by a better economy and sound fundamentals in our main sectors of activity. With regards to higher cost for untreated railway ties, margins will be impacted in the short term, until we are able to adjust selling prices as per provisions in most of Stella-Jones' multi-year contracts. Further profitability improvements will also be driven by sustained initiatives to optimize efficiency across our expanded North American network following recent acquisitions," concluded Mr. McManus.

CONFERENCE CALL
Stella-Jones will hold a conference call to discuss these results on August 8, 2014, at 10:00 AM Eastern Time. Interested parties can join the call by dialing 647-427-7450 (Toronto or overseas) or 1-888-231-8191 (elsewhere in North America). Parties unable to call in at this time may access a tape recording of the meeting by calling 1-855-859-2056 and entering the passcode 76047811. This tape recording will be available on Friday, August 8, 2014 as of 1:30 PM Eastern Time until 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Friday, August 15, 2014.

NON-IFRS FINANCIAL MEASURE
Operating income is a financial measure not prescribed by IFRS and is not likely to be comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers. Management considers this non-IFRS measure to be useful information to assist knowledgeable investors regarding the Company's financial condition and results of operations as it provides an additional measure of its performance.

ABOUT STELLA-JONES
Stella-Jones Inc. (TSX: SJ) is a leading producer and marketer of pressure treated wood products. The Company supplies North America's railroad operators with railway ties and timbers, and the continent's electrical utilities and telecommunication companies with utility poles. Stella-Jones also provides residential lumber to retailers and wholesalers for outdoor applications, as well as industrial products for construction and marine applications. The Company's common shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Except for historical information provided herein, this press release may contain information and statements of a forward-looking nature concerning the future performance of the Company. These statements are based on suppositions and uncertainties as well as on management's best possible evaluation of future events. Such factors may include, without excluding other considerations, fluctuations in quarterly results, evolution in customer demand for the Company's products and services, the impact of price pressures exerted by competitors, the ability of the Company to raise the capital required for acquisitions, and general market trends or economic changes. As a result, readers are advised that actual results may differ from expected results.

Note to readers:  Condensed interim unaudited consolidated financial statements for the second quarter ended June 30, 2014 are available on Stella-Jones' website at www.stella-jones.com

HEAD OFFICE
3100 de la Côte-Vertu Blvd.
Suite 300
Saint-Laurent, Quebec
H4R 2J8
Tel.:  (514) 934-8666
Fax:  (514) 934-5327
EXCHANGE LISTINGS
The Toronto Stock Exchange
Stock Symbol:  SJ

TRANSFER AGENT
AND REGISTRAR
Computershare Investor Services Inc.
INVESTOR RELATIONS
Éric Vachon
Senior Vice-President and
Chief Financial Officer
Tel.:  (514) 940-3903
Fax:  (514) 934-5327
evachon@stella-jones.com

 

SOURCE Stella-Jones Inc.

For further information:

Éric Vachon, CPA, CA
Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer
Tel.: (514) 940-3903
evachon@stella-jones.com

Martin Goulet, CFA
MaisonBrison Communications
Tel.: (514) 731-0000
martin@maisonbrison.com