February 10, 2010 / 11:37 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 2-Canada's Canfor Q4 loss narrower than expected

* Q4 loss/shr C$0.12 vs loss/shr C$1.61 yr ago

* Q4 adj loss/shr C$0.13 vs est loss/shr C$0.21

* Sales falls 7 pct (Adds details, analyst comments)

By Koustav Samanta

BANGALORE, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Canadian Forest products company Canfor Corp CFP.TO posted a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss, helped partly by foreign exchange gains on long-term debt and investments.

“Despite improved pulp markets and further progress in cost reduction efforts, the depressed U.S. housing sector continued to weigh heavily on the financial performance of our core lumber business,” Chief Executive Jim Shepard said in a statement.

The CEO considers Canfor’s focused attention on China and South-East Asia, and progress in directing more shipments offshore to be a positive factor for the company.

“It is important for them to start looking at acquisition opportunities and diversify strategically outside British Columbia,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Quinn, who has a “sector perform” rating on Canfor stock.

For the fourth quarter, the company reported a net loss of C$17 million, or 12 Canadian cents a share, compared with C$229.8 million, or C$1.61, a year earlier.

It reported an adjusted net loss of C$18.8 million, or 13 Canadian cents a share.

Sales declined 7 percent to C$549.6 million.

Analysts on average were expecting a loss of 21 Canadian cents a share, before special items, on revenue of C$532.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Canfor, Canada’s second-largest producer of softwood lumber, said it had a foreign exchange gain on long-term debt and investments of C$8 million, compared with a loss of C$72 million, a year ago.

The company also had a gain on derivative financial instruments of C$2.3 million, against a loss of C$81.7 million, in the year ago period.

Canfor said cash conservation was a key area of focus in the quarter. At year end, it had a cash balance of C$133 million, and C$426 million of available undrawn operating lines of credit.

Shares of the Vancouver-based company closed at C$8.15 Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Koustav Samanta; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy and Gopakumar Warrier)

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