TORONTO, March 15, 2011 Sino-Forest Corporation ("Sino-Forest") (TSX:TRE) announced its financial results today for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2010. All amounts in this release are expressed in U.S. dollars unless otherwise indicated.
Financial Highlights for Fourth Quarter 2010 compared to 2009:
* Revenue increased 63% to $767 million
* EBITDA increased 55% to $553 million
* Diluted Earnings Per Share rose 32% to $0.65
* Net Income increased 52% to $171 million
Financial and Operating Highlights for Full Year 2010 compared to 2009:
* Revenue reached nearly $2 billion after increasing 55%
* Diluted Earnings Per Share rose 16% to $1.60 after taking into account a $0.09 non-cash, one-time tax charge related to prior years
* Annual volume of plantation fibre sold increased 24% to 17.6 million cubic metres (m3)
* Plantation area under management increased 54% to 788,700 hectares in the PRC at year-end
* Cash on hand increased 11% to $1.2 billion
(US$ millions, except margins and per share amounts) Fourth Quarter
ended December 31 Twelve m onths
ended December 31
Notes (1) and (2) are at the end of this release
Allen Chan, Chairman and CEO of Sino-Forest said, "We are very pleased to report double-digit growth for our top and bottom lines in both the fourth quarter and full year 2010. Infrastructure and housing construction activities and the rapid pace of urbanization in China continued to drive demand for our wood fibre, especially in inland provinces where the majority of our operations are based. With strong fibre demand and a growing portfolio of plantations under management, we sold 17.6 million m3 of fibre last year, thereby surpassing the original goal of 17 million m3 we initially set for the 2011 fiscal year."
Mr. Chan added, "Our operating and financial highlights last year also included: acquiring approximately 147,000 hectares of plantations in Anhui and Jiangxi Provinces, the signing of a sixth master agreement in Guizhou Province, increasing our ownership stake in Greenheart Group to approximately 60%, and raising $600 million from a senior notes offering. Moreover, we remained on track with executing our master agreements by acquiring approximately 50% of the 1.3 million hectares covered by our master agreements, and commenced harvesting and replanting in Hunan and Guangxi Provinces."
Mr. Chan continued, "With $1.2 billion of cash on hand, we plan to continue expanding our geographical reach into new provinces (central and western regions of China), where we will add 300,000 hectares of mature saleable trees to our portfolio of commercial plantations. In fact, as part of this 300,000 hectares acquisition, we signed a memorandum of understanding this week with the intention to acquire 150,000 hectares of readily harvestable commercial plantations, details of which will be announced shortly."
Business Segment Highlights
The following table presents a breakdown of revenues derived from our key business segments:
Total revenue for the fourth quarter 2010 increased 63% to $767.3 million, which was mainly due to the increase in sales from our wood fibre operations. For the full year 2010, total revenue increased 55% to $1,923.5 million, mainly attributable to an increase in sales of $447 million (up 47%) in plantation fibre and $216 million (up 91%) in trading of logs and other wood products.
Wood Fibre Operations
Revenue from sales of plantation fibre in the fourth quarter increased 57% to $581.4 million, mainly due to an 11% increase in the average selling price and a 41% increase in volume of fibre sold.
For the full year 2010, revenue from sales of plantation fibre increased 47% to $1.4 billion, compared to $954.2 million in 2009. This was due to a 19% increase in average selling price and a 24% increase in volume of fibre sold during the year. The increase in the average selling price of standing timber in 2010 was mainly due to a difference in sales mix. The average selling price of pine and Chinese fir in 2010 was $66 per m3, compared to $62 per m3 in 2009. In addition, we sold broadleaf in Yunnan as standing timber at an average selling price of $102 per m3 in 2010, compared to $64 per m3 in 2009. The revenue from broadleaf in Yunnan accounted for approximately 46% of standing timber revenue in 2010, compared to 5% in 2009.
In the fourth quarter 2010, under our master agreements, we sold approximately 38,500 hectares of plantation trees, mainly in Hunan and Guangxi Provinces. For full year 2010, we sold approximately 64,200 hectares of trees, mainly in Yunnan, Hunan and Guangxi Provinces. Acquisitions under the master agreements for the full year amounted to approximately 213,900 hectares of plantation trees.
At year end 2010, the total area of plantations under management was 788,700 hectares in the PRC, up 54% from 2009.
Trading of Wood Logs
Revenue from trading of imported and domestic logs and other wood products increased 97% to $163.1 million in the fourth quarter 2010, compared to $83.0 million in the same period last year. This increase was primarily due to higher volume of Russian logs sold. For the full year, revenue increased 91% to $454.0 million in 2010, compared to $237.9 million in 2009.
Manufacturing and Other Operations
Revenue from manufacturing and other operations increased 51% to $22.8 million in the fourth quarter 2010, and increased 48% to $68.3 million for the full year 2010. The increase was mainly due to the increase in revenue from the sales of our engineered-wood flooring products and the sales of recomposed wood products from our newly acquired HOMIX operations.
Gross profit increased 57% to $232.1 million for the fourth quarter 2010 and increased 53% to $671.5 million for the full year 2010. Gross profit margin, being gross profit expressed as a percentage of revenue, decreased 1.3% points to 30.2% in Q4 2010, and decreased 0.7% points to 34.9% for full year 2010.
Wood Fibre Operations Gross Profit Margin
Plantation Fibre: Gross profit margin from sales of standing timber for the fourth quarter increased to 48% or $30 per m3 in 2010, compared to 46% or $28 per m3 in the same period in 2009. The gross profit margin from sales of logs was 39% or $32 per m3 in Q4 2010, compared to 35% or $27 per m3 in the same period in 2009. These increases reflected overall increases in the average selling price of logs in the fourth quarter 2010.
For the full year 2010, gross profit margin from sales of standing timber increased to 55% or $42 per m3, compared to 50% or $31 per m3 in 2009. The gross profit margin from sales of logs was 40% or $33 per m3 in 2010, compared to 36% or $28 per m3 in 2009, mainly as a result of an increase in the average selling price of logs in 2010.
Trading of Wood Logs: Gross profit margin from this segment decreased by 1.2% points to 4.7% in Q4 2010. For the full year 2010, gross profit margin decreased by 0.5% point to 5.2%.
Manufacturing and Other Operations Gross Profit Margin
Gross profit margin from this segment increased to 11.9% in the fourth quarter 2010 compared to 9.8% in the same period last year. For the full year 2010, gross profit margin increased to 11.2% compared to 7.4% in 2009, mainly due to improvement in engineered-wood flooring operations.
Selling, General and Administrative Expenses
Our SG&A expenses for the fourth quarter 2010 increased 57% to $30 million, compared to $19.1 million in same period 2009. For the full year 2010, our SG&A expenses increased 40% to $89.7 million, compared to $64.0 million in 2009. The increase was primarily due to increased staff costs, additional leasing charges, and incremental costs of newly acquired subsidiaries in 2010 including Mandra Forestry and Greenheart Group.
As a result of the foregoing, net income for the fourth quarter 2010 increased 52% to $170.9 million. For the full year 2010 net income increased 38% to $395.4 million, compared to $286.4 million in the previous year. Overall net income as a percentage of revenue decreased 1.7% points to 22% for the fourth quarter 2010 and decreased 2.5% points to 21% for the full year 2010.
Cash flows from operating activities of continuing operations
Net cash provided from operating activities increased to $364.9 million for the fourth quarter 2010 from $226.1 million in same period 2009. For the full year 2010, net cash provided from operating activities increased to $840.1 million, compared to $784.5 million in 2009. The increase was due to an increase in cash provided by operations, offset by the increase in cash used in working capital that mainly resulted from an increase of accounts receivable in 2010.
In 2011, management expects capital expenditures will be approximately $1.9 billion for plantation acquisitions, replanting and maintenance, and approximately $25.0 million for the development of manufacturing facilities integrated with our plantation operations. These projected expenditures will be adjusted as necessary based on several factors, including some that may be beyond our control such as changes in the macroeconomic environment in the PRC, Suriname and New Zealand.
Pöyry Valuation Update
Sino-Forest has engaged Pöyry Consulting, an international consultancy firm with forestry expertise, to provide an annual independent valuation of our forest plantation assets. Pöyry is currently in the process of completing the 2010 year end valuation report which is expected to be finalized by the end of April 2011.
However, Pöyry has changed its disclosure policy so as to no longer allow its clients to make its detailed valuation reports publicly available.
In correspondence received from Pöyry, Doug Parsonson, Vice-President, Asia-Pacific Management Consulting said, "An internal risk assessment has been conducted throughout Pöyry's Management Consulting Business Group in 2010. On the basis of this risk assessment, it has inter alia been resolved throughout the business group that Pöyry's valuation reports (and similar) may no longer be made available in the public domain for certain markets. Specific markets identified in the initial assessment include North America (USA and Canada), Australia, and Mainland China. In accordance with this group internal assessment, the reports covering the valuation services performed by Pöyry for Sino-Forest Corporation may no longer be posted on the internet as had been the practice, or in any other manner be made publicly available."
Pöyry and Sino-Forest have separately agreed upon the manner in which parts of Pöyry's valuation report may, on a non-reliance basis, be communicated to Sino-Forest's stakeholders.
China's National People's Congress meeting, which was concluded on March 14, 2011, laid out the country's Twelfth Five-year Plan (2011-2015) ("Plan"). The main policy themes and guidelines of this Plan include the taming of inflation, rebalancing of economic growth, improvement of peoples' livelihoods through income distribution, faster income growth, social security improvements, construction of affordable housing, and acceleration of inland and rural region development. Allen Chan said, "We remain very optimistic about the potential for China's domestic growth and demand for wood fibre." In order to cultivate and supply an increasing share of the country's wood fibre, Sino-Forest will continue to focus on "planting trees for China". At the same time, our subsidiary Greenheart Group, will focus on "importing foreign fibre into China in a sustainable and environment-friendly manner".
We are committed to running sustainable, long-term plantation operations in China. To support our long-term goal, in the third quarter 2010, we announced our plans to plant 200,000 hectares by 2012 with our scientifically advanced seedlings, of which we anticipate planting 80,000 to 100,000 hectares in 2011. Allen Chan concluded, "We are confident in our ability to reach this significant target, given our 16-year track record, scientific advantages and plantation silviculture expertise."
About Sino-Forest Corporation
Sino-Forest Corporation is a leading commercial forest plantation operator in China. Its principal businesses include the ownership and management of forest plantation trees, the sale of standing timber and wood logs, and the complementary manufacturing of downstream engineered-wood products. Sino-Forest also holds a majority interest in Greenheart Group Limited, a Hong Kong-listed investment holding company (HKSE: 00094) with operations based in Suriname, South America and New Zealand. The company is involved in responsible and sustainable log harvesting, lumber processing and sales and marketing of logs and lumber products to China and other countries around the world. Sino-Forest's common shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol TRE since 1995. Learn more at www.sinoforest.com.
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