Rayonier Advanced Materials Announces First Quarter 2021 Results and Strategic Update
Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. (NYSE:RYAM) (the “Company”) reported loss from continuing operations for the quarter ended March 27, 2021 of $27 million or $0.43 per diluted share, compared to a loss from continuing operations of $25 million or $0.39 per diluted share for the same prior year quarter. The decline in the diluted earnings per share was due to higher book income tax expense, partially offset by higher prices for lumber and commodity High Purity Cellulose product sales prices along with stronger cellulose specialties volumes.
–Operating income was $55 million, $67 million favorable to the comparable period in 2020, driven by higher prices for lumber and commodity High Purity Cellulose along with stronger cellulose specialties volumes
–Driven by higher book income tax expense, first quarter loss from continuing operations was $27 million, $2 million unfavorable to the comparable period in 2020; expect minimal cash taxes in 2021
–First quarter Adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations of $91 million was up $64 million from the comparable quarter in 2020 primarily driven by higher lumber and High Purity Cellulose commodity prices along with stronger cellulose specialties volumes
–Generated $21 million of Free Cash Flow for the quarter driven by higher prices partially offset by seasonal working capital build; expect $50 million from cash tax refunds during the next 12 months
–Announced sale of lumber and newsprint assets for approximately $214 million, subject to inventory value adjustment, with a closing expected in the second half of the year, focusing the Company on its core High Purity Cellulose business, and the opportunity to further leverage sustainable, bio-based solutions
–Announces significant investment in Anomera Inc. carboxylated cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), a patented, biodegradable product, supported by a distribution agreement with Croda, a UK based leader in ingredient formulations
“As expected, first quarter operating results were significantly favorable to both the prior year and sequential quarter. The primary driver was a surge in lumber prices, which is expected to continue in the second quarter before moderating later in the year. We also captured higher value from our core High Purity Cellulose business and improved margins in our Paperboard and Pulp & Newsprint segments,” said Paul Boynton, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Recently, we also announced the strategic sale of our lumber and newsprint assets to GreenFirst Forest Products for $214 million. In addition to the attractive purchase price of 6.3 times trailing 3-year reported Adjusted EBITDA we will enter into a key 20-year agreement for chip supply to our Temiscaming facility. We will use the cash proceeds to reduce debt and reinvest in growth of our core high purity cellulose business.”
High Purity Cellulose
Operating results for the three-months ended March 27, 2021 improved $11 million, to $6 million, when compared to the prior year. Sales prices for the segment increased 9 percent during the current three-month period led by higher commodity prices and increased cellulose specialties sales when compared to the same prior year period. Compared to the prior year, sales volumes for the segment were impacted by shipping constraints and declined 8 percent during the current three-month period due to lower commodities volumes, partially offset by higher cellulose specialties sales volumes driven by improved demand. Additionally, better productivity and the impact of shutdowns improved operational costs.
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, operating income improved by $9 million driven by higher commodity sales prices and lower operational costs partly offset by lower sales volumes.
The operating results for the three-month period ended March 27, 2021 improved $62 million, to $61 million, when compared to the same prior year period. The improvement was primarily due to an increase in lumber prices of 118 percent, partially offset by higher residual stumpage costs. Sales volumes were slightly lower than in the prior year resulting primarily from the timing of shipments and logistic constraints. The Company deposited $7 million and $6 million of softwood lumber duties in the quarter ended March 27, 2021 and 2020, respectively. While the Company benefits from the December 2020 rate reduction from 20% to 9%, the increase in lumber prices resulted in an increase to the total value of the duties paid.
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, the operating results improved by $1 million. The improvement was driven by a 33 percent increase in lumber prices, partly offset by lower sales volumes and the absence of the favorable duties expense reversal of $21 million reflected in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Operating income improved $1 million, to $6 million, for the three-months ended March 27, 2021 when compared to the same prior year period primarily due to lower operational costs.
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, operating income improved $2 million primarily due to higher sales prices and lower operational costs partly offset by a decline in sales volumes.
Pulp & Newsprint
Operating results for the three-months ended March 27, 2021 remained flat when compared to the same prior year period at a $6 million loss. Lower newsprint and high-yield pulp sales volumes were offset by improvements in high-yield pulp and newsprint sales prices during the three-month period ended March 27, 2021. Declines in newsprint volumes were due to continued weak demand stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and management’s decision to produce on only one of its newsprint two operating lines. Declines in high-yield pulp volumes were impacted by the timing of shipments and logistics constraints.
The operating loss improved by $2 million when compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, with higher newsprint and high-yield pulp sales prices partly offset by lower high-yield pulp and newsprint sales volumes. Declines in high-yield pulp volumes were impacted by the timing of shipments and logistics constraints.
The operating loss for the three-months ended March 27, 2021, increased by $7 million to $12 million when compared to the same prior year period primarily due to unfavorable foreign currency impacts compared to the prior period and an increased reserve associated with a dispute settlement.
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, the operating loss improved by $4 million during the first quarter ended March 27, 2021, driven primarily by favorable foreign currency impacts and lower variable compensation costs.
Interest expense for the three-months ended March 27, 2021 increased $3 million when compared to the same prior year period. The increase was principally driven by increased interest rate and higher amortization of debt issuance costs related to the December 23, 2020 refinancing of certain debt.
On December 23, 2020, the Company recorded a loss on debt extinguishment of $8 million in connection with the debt refinancing.
The effective tax rate expense for the for the first quarter of 2021 was 172 percent compared to a benefit rate of 6 percent in the same period of 2020. The 2021 effective tax rate differs from the statutory rate of 21 percent primarily due to Global Intangible Low Taxed Income (“GILTI”) on foreign earnings, disallowed interest deductions in the U.S., and different statutory tax rates of foreign operations. The application of GILTI effectively results in double book taxation of the majority of the Company’s high Canadian earnings. The Company currently expects minimal cash taxes to be paid in 2021 or 2022 as a result of 2021 earnings.
Cash Flows & Liquidity
For the three-months ended March 27, 2021, the Company’s operations provided cash flows of $38 million, including the impact of working capital which increased $35 million.
For the three-months ended March 27, 2021, the Company invested $20 million in capital expenditures, net of proceeds from the sale of assets, including approximately $2 million of strategic capital spending.
The Company ended the quarter with $268 million of liquidity globally, including $107 million of cash, borrowing capacity of $142 million under the ABL Credit Facility and $19 million of availability on the factoring facility in France. Liquidity for the first quarter improved $53 million, due to an increase in cash driven by positive operational results.
The market assessment represents the Company’s best current estimate of each business in this environment.
High Purity Cellulose
Pricing levels for the Company’s commodity products increased during the first quarter and are forecasted to increase further in the second quarter. Prices for cellulose specialties declined slightly and in line with expectations for the full year. Total High Purity Cellulose volumes are expected to remain stable for the full year, however, we expect a more favorable mix towards cellulose specialties. The annual maintenance outage at the Jesup facility in the second quarter is currently ongoing.
Key costs, including energy and commodity chemical prices have increased rapidly during the first quarter and remain difficult to predict. The Company remains committed to investing in this core business to reduce costs, improve reliability and provide new platforms for growth. The sale of the lumber and newsprint assets discussed below will provide the Company with a key opportunity to reinvest in its core high purity cellulose business and its BioFuture.
On April 12, 2021, the Company announced the sale of its lumber and newsprint assets. See Subsequent Event section below for a more detailed description.
Prices for lumber continue to strengthen to record levels driven by the exceptional demand in the U.S housing market and high levels of repair and remodel activity. Housing starts in March 2021 reached 1.7 million units, seasonally adjusted, while building permits reached 1.8 million. The Company is focused on ensuring reliable operations and capturing the benefit of high lumber prices through completion of the sale, which is expected in the second half of 2021.
Paperboard prices have increased 5 percent from fourth quarter and are expected to increase further, helping offset increases in raw material cost.
Pulp & Newsprint
As previously stated, on April 12, 2021, the Company announced the sale of its lumber and newsprint assets. See Subsequent Event section below for a more detailed description.
High-yield pulp and newsprint markets have experienced price increases during the first quarter and additional price increases are expected in the near-term. Additionally, the Company continues to manage production at the newsprint facility to minimize costs and improve sales mix while experiencing early success in the expansion of the Envirosmart™ food service bag, which targets the quick service restaurant end-market and used for items such as sandwiches and to-go orders.
Sale of lumber and newsprint assets
On April 12, 2021, the Company announced the sale of its lumber and newsprint facilities and certain related assets (the “Purchased Assets”) located in Ontario and Québec Canada to GreenFirst Forest Products, Inc. (“GreenFirst”), for approximately $214 million, including an assumption of $74 million associated with finished goods, work-in-process and raw materials inventory value, which is subject to fluctuation until closing. The purchase price, to be adjusted at closing by changes in the value of the inventory, will be paid 85 percent in cash and the remainder in common shares of GreenFirst. In addition, a credit note will be issued to the Company by GreenFirst in the amount of CDN $8 million, which may be offset against amounts owed to GreenFirst in the future for wood chip purchases, equally over the next 5 years. The closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur in the second half of 2021, but not before July 31, is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals, the transfer of forestry licenses and the approval of the TSX Venture Exchange.
The Purchased Assets include the Company’s six lumber facilities, newsprint facility, inventory and certain real property, machinery, inventory, permits, leases, licenses, pension assets and liabilities and other related assets associated with the successful operations of these businesses. Other assets and liabilities, including accounts receivable, accounts payable, certain retained inventory and rights to softwood lumber duties, generated or incurred through the closing date, are excluded. Since 2017, the Company has paid a total of $98 million in duties.
In connection with the transaction, the Company will enter into a 20-yr wood chip and residual fiber supply agreement with GreenFirst, securing supply for the Company’s operations at the Temiscaming plant. Additionally, the parties entered into a Transition Services Agreement (“TSA”) whereby the Company will provide certain transitional services to GreenFirst, for a period of time following the closing of the transaction, not to exceed twelve months from such date. The TSA includes support related to information technology, accounting, treasury, human resources and payroll, tax, supply chain and procurement functions. Costs incurred by the Company associated with the TSA will be reimbursed by GreenFirst.
As of March 27, 2021, the carrying value of the net assets included in the transaction was $238 million, including the carrying value of inventory which was $107 million. The Company expects a cash tax impact in 2022 of less than $10 million as a result of this transaction, although the full extent of tax impacts are still being evaluated.
In 2020, the assets generated approximately $439 million of revenue, $55 million of operating income and $51 million of Adjusted EBITDA.
Final Settlement Reached in Dispute with IESO Relating to Investigation of the Kapuskasing Newsprint Facility
The Company had previously been engaged in litigation with the Market Assessment and Compliance Division (“MACD”) branch of the Independent Electricity System Operator (“IESO”) regarding their investigations into the Company’s compliance with the published rules that govern the operation of the wholesale electricity market in Ontario, Canada. On April 19, 2021, the Company and the IESO entered into Minutes of Settlement (“MOS”) pursuant to which the parties agreed to fully and finally settle all claims relating to their investigations. As part of the settlement, the Company agreed to a fixed obligation to pay a sum of CAD $12 million over a period of 5 years comprised of a CAD $4.5 million up-front payment and a CAD $7.5 payment to be spread (on a front-weighted basis) over the next 5 anniversaries of the MOS, without interest. In addition to the foregoing, the MOS provides that a “suspended” sum of CAD $10.4 million would become due and payable in the event the Company fails to comply with any of the terms and conditions of the MOS or commits an event of default, as defined under the applicable market rules, unless such breach or event of default is remedied on a timely basis. This contingent “suspended” sum decreases annually as the scheduled fixed, or non-contingent, payments are made under the MOS. Assuming no uncured event of default or breach occurs during the repayment period, upon full payment of the CAD $12 million, the entire “suspended” sum shall be extinguished and the Company will be released from any payment obligation with respect thereto.
Given the parties’ finalization of and entry into the MOS, the Company considers this matter concluded (subject only to the parties’ obligations yet to be performed under the MOS).
Growing RYAM’s BioFuture
Upon the consummation of the sale of the lumber and newsprint assets, the Company will be focusing on and investing in leveraging its four high purity cellulose plants as biorefineries. The Company believes it is in a unique position, starting with natural, renewably sourced feedstock, to capitalize on the global demand for more sustainable products with its leading cellulose specialties offerings as alternatives for petroleum-based incumbents and specialized assets capable of generating green fuels, bioelectricity and other biomaterials. The Company has executed on several high return projects to enhance the value of these assets, including recent investments in green energy in Tartas, France. Additionally, TemSilk™, a new product being produced in Temiscaming, Quebec, is a critical input in the production of Lyocell, a more sustainable textile. The Company is also a lead investor in Anomera, Inc. (“Anomera”), a Canadian start-up corporation headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. Anomera manufactures Carboxylated Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC), a patented, biodegradable product, with uses in the cosmetics industry and various other industrial applications, including concrete, inks and pigments, polymer composites, coatings and adhesives industries. The investment in Anomera provides a new platform for cellulose specialties as the Company leverages the combined knowledge of cellulose chemistry to develop new markets for cellulose. The Company will seek further opportunities to leverage its core knowledge of creating the remarkable from the renewable to drive incremental value in its BioFuture.
“With prices currently rising in all of our commodity products, we expect to maintain earnings momentum into the second quarter which will further improve cash flow and liquidity. Additionally, we will capture all earnings in our lumber and newsprint assets until the closing, anticipated in the second half of the year. As we grow our cash balances through the year, we will look to both repay debt and reinvest in our BioFuture to capture incremental margins and drive shareholder value.” concluded Mr. Boynton.
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About Rayonier Advanced Materials
Rayonier Advanced Materials is a global leader of cellulose-based technologies, including high purity cellulose specialties, a natural polymer commonly found in filters, food, pharmaceuticals and other industrial applications. The Company also manufactures products for lumber, paper and packaging markets. With manufacturing operations in the U.S., Canada and France, Rayonier Advanced Materials employs approximately 4,000 people and generates approximately $1.7 billion of revenues. More information is available at www.rayonieram.com.
Ryan Houck – Media Contact – (904) 357-9134
Source: Rayonier Advanced Materials, Inc.