Tembec reports financial results for its first fiscal quarter ended December 24, 2016

Date: 
January 26, 2017

Montreal, Quebec - Consolidated sales for the three-month period ended December 24, 2016, were $370 million, as compared to $354 million in the same quarter a year ago. The Company generated a net loss of $9 million or $0.09 per share in the December 2016 quarter compared to a net loss of $28 million or $0.28 per share in the December 2015 quarter. The December 2016 quarter included a non-cash loss of $16 million related to the translation of US dollar denominated debt. Operating earnings before depreciation, amortization and other items (adjusted EBITDA) was $34 million for the three-month period ended December 24, 2016, as compared to adjusted EBITDA of $29 million a year ago and adjusted EBITDA of $57 million in the prior quarter.

Business Segment Results

The Specialty Cellulose Pulp segment generated adjusted EBITDA of $10 million on sales of $103 million for the quarter ended December 24, 2016, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $23 million on sales of $122 million in the September 2016 quarter. The pulp sales decrease of $18 million was due to lower shipments, partially offset by higher selling prices. Canadian dollar selling prices for specialty grades improved by $11 per tonne. The increase was currency and mix driven as US dollar and euro prices for specialty pulp were relatively unchanged quarter-over-quarter. The higher effective Canadian dollar prices increased adjusted EBITDA by $1 million. The $154 per tonne increase in the selling price of viscose and other grades was due to higher US dollar selling prices and a weaker Canadian dollar, which declined by 2.1% versus the prior quarter. The higher viscose grade prices increased adjusted EBITDA by $1 million. Shipments were equal to 73% of capacity, compared to 94% in the September 2016 quarter. During the December 2016 quarter, the Tartas specialty cellulose pulp mill was idled for 11 days due to its major maintenance outage. These occur at 18 month intervals. The Temiscaming specialty cellulose pulp mill also incurred a two-day planned maintenance outage. There had been no maintenance outages at either facility in the September 2016 quarter. As a result, the pulp mills produced 13,900 fewer tonnes in the December 2016 quarter. Manufacturing costs increased by $12 million quarter-over-quarter, including $4 million for maintenance material and $6 million of unabsorbed fixed costs associated with the aforementioned productivity decrease. The lower pulp shipments generated an unfavourable $2 million variance. Chemical business adjusted EBITDA declined by $2 million as the fall and winter months are seasonally slower for the lignosulfonate business.

The Forest Products segment generated adjusted EBITDA of $9 million on sales of $113 million for the quarter ended December 24, 2016, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $12 million on sales of $113 million in the prior quarter. SPF lumber sales increased by $2 million due to higher prices and shipments. Sales of logs decreased by $2 million due to the seasonal decrease in activity in the fall and winter months. During the December 2016 quarter, the random length lumber reference price decreased by US $21 per mbf while the reference price for stud lumber decreased by US $7 per mbf. Currency was a positive factor as the Canadian dollar averaged US $0.751, a 2.1% decrease from US $0.767 in the prior quarter. The net effect was that Canadian dollar selling prices increased by $6 per mbf, increasing adjusted EBITDA by $1 million. Lumber shipments were equal to 95% of capacity, as compared to 82% in the prior quarter. The September 2016 quarter capacity included the Senneterre sawmill. The current quarter does not include the capacity of the Senneterre sawmill as it was sold. The cash cost of SPF lumber increased by $4 million, primarily for purchased fibre. The fall and winter months are normally higher cost operating periods.

The Paper Pulp segment generated adjusted EBITDA of $7 million on sales of $83 million for the quarter ended December 24, 2016, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $8 million on sales of $83 million in the September 2016 quarter. Sales were unchanged as higher prices offset lower shipments. The benchmark price (delivered China) for bleached eucalyptus kraft (BEK) increased by US $18 per tonne. US dollar prices for high-yield pulp followed a similar trend, increasing by US $9 per tonne quarter-over-quarter. Currency was a favourable factor as the Canadian dollar weakened versus the US dollar. Overall, average selling prices for external sales in Canadian dollars increased by $24 per tonne, increasing adjusted EBITDA by $3 million. Pulp shipments were equal to 95% of capacity as compared to 98% in the prior quarter. Mill level costs increased by $3 million as the two pulp mills produced 9,800 fewer tonnes.

The Paper segment generated adjusted EBITDA of $17 million on sales of $96 million for the quarter ended December 24, 2016, compared to adjusted EBITDA of $19 million on sales of $97 million in the September 2016 quarter. The $1 million decrease in sales was due to lower coated bleached board shipments, partially offset by higher coated bleached board prices and higher newsprint shipments. The US dollar reference price for coated bleached board was unchanged quarter-over-quarter. Currency was a positive factor as the Canadian dollar was weaker. Overall, average selling prices for coated bleached board were up $22 per tonne increasing adjusted EBITDA by $1 million. The coated bleached board shipment to capacity ratio was 101% compared to 107% in the prior quarter. Manufacturing costs increased by $2 million. The US dollar benchmark price for newsprint was unchanged quarter-over-quarter. The previously noted decline in the relative value of the Canadian dollar favourably impacted price realizations, but this was partially offset by a less favourable sales mix. Overall, average selling prices for newsprint increased by $2 per tonne and did not impact adjusted EBITDA. The newsprint shipment to capacity ratio was 82% compared to 78% in the prior quarter. Costs were similar to the prior quarter.

Outlook

Overall, the December 2016 quarterly results were as anticipated. The $13 million adjusted EBITDA decrease in the Specialty Cellulose segment was expected due to significant planned major maintenance. The 11-day maintenance outage at the Tartas specialty pulp mill cost more than originally forecast due to additional repairs on the biomass boiler. Higher viscose prices combined with a weaker Canadian dollar had a positive impact on Canadian dollar selling prices. A significant rebound in profitability in the March 2017 quarter is expected. Non-acetate specialty grade prices will increase by 5% to 7% and there will be no planned major maintenance in the quarter at either of the two specialty pulp mills. Lumber markets continued to show “late season” strength and prices were relatively robust during what is normally a slow period. Lumber market fundamentals should continue to gradually improve over time. The Paper Pulp segment results were better than anticipated. The market reacted positively to the news that a large BEK expansion project would be ramping up at a slower rate than initially expected. However, this new capacity will eventually occur, putting pressure on the hardwood pulp market. The Paper segment adjusted EBITDA of $17 million represented another solid quarter for this segment and it should continue to perform well. With trailing twelve-month adjusted EBITDA having reached $153 million, the Company has been able to demonstrate the positive impact on margins generated by the Temiscaming Cogen project as well as other cost reduction initiatives. The Company will continue to focus on cost and working capital reductions with a goal of further improving operating results and reducing the Company’s overall level of indebtedness.

Tembec is a manufacturer of forest products – lumber, pulp, paper and specialty cellulose – and a global leader in sustainable forest management practices. Principal operations are in Canada and France. With annual sales of approximately $1.5 billion, Tembec has approximately 3,000 employees and is listed on the TSX (TMB). The full quarterly report, including the interim Management Discussion and Analysis, the interim financial statements and the accompanying notes for the quarter ended December 24, 2016, can be obtained on Tembec’s website at www.tembec.com or on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

The Company`s financial results have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). All financial references are stated in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise noted. All references to quarterly information relate to Tembec’s fiscal quarters. Adjusted EBITDA and certain other financial measures utilized in the press release are non-IFRS financial measures. As they have no standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS, they may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. Non-IFRS financial measures are described in the Definitions section of the interim Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A).

This press release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of securities laws. Such statements relate, without limitation, to the Company’s or management’s objectives, projections, estimates, expectations or predictions of the future and can be identified by words such as “may”, “will”, “could”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “expect” and “project”, the negative or variations thereof, and expressions of similar nature. Forward‑looking statements are based on certain assumptions and analyses made by the Company in light of its experience, information available to it and its perception of future developments. Such statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, changes in foreign exchange rates, product selling prices, raw material and operating costs and other factors identified in the Company’s periodic filings with securities regulatory authorities, including under the “risk factors” section of the Company’s most recent Annual Information Form. Many of these risks are beyond the control of the Company and, therefore, may cause actual actions or results to materially differ from those expressed or implied herein. The forward-looking statements contained herein reflect the Company’s expectations as of the date hereof and are subject to change after such date. The Company disclaims any intention to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless required by applicable securities legislation.

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Investor Contact:      
Michel J. Dumas                                                     
Executive Vice President, Finance and CFO                                      
Tel: 819 627-4268                             
E-mail: michel.dumas@tembec.com   

Media Contact:          
Linda Coates
Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Affairs
Tel.: 416 775-2819
E-mail: linda.coates@tembec.com