(Refiles to correct day in first paragraph to Tuesday from Wednesday)
* Cuts quarterly dividend to 5 cents from 25 cents
* Shares fall 3.3 percent in early trade
TORONTO, July 7 (Reuters) - U.S. timber and forest products company Weyerhaeuser Co WY.N cut its quarterly dividend by 80 percent on Tuesday as the outlook for its businesses continued to remain uncertain.
Weyerhaeuser and its peers, which have been hit hard by the recession and the slump in the U.S. housing market, have permanently shuttered numerous mills, reduced operations at almost all sites, and cut job aggressively.
The company lowered its quarterly dividend to 5 cents a share from 25 cents.
“Although our guidance for the recently completed quarter remains unchanged, the economic outlook for our businesses continues to be challenged and uncertain,” Chief Executive Dan Fulton said in a statement.
“In light of these conditions, this dividend decision enhances our current liquidity and provides for more financial flexibility, including a possible REIT conversion should the board make that decision in the future,” he said.
Weyerhaeuser, which has sold a number of its non-core operations, is considering converting to a real estate investment trust, or REIT structure, which is more tax efficient than its current corporate structure.
“We are taking many actions, including deferring timber harvest, shutting and curtailing facilities, and reducing costs wherever possible to preserve our long-term value and improve our performance,” Fulton said.
The company also announced the permanent closure of a lumber mill near Taylor, Louisiana, effective immediately.
Weyerhaeuser’s shares fell 3.3 percent to $29.02 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by Peter Galloway)