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Weyerhaeuser doesn't see recovery in lumber prices.

Byline: From Register-Guard and news service reports

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Weyerhaeuser Co., the world's biggest lumber company, doesn't expect lumber prices to improve this quarter, CEO Steven Rogel said.

``The simple fact that so much capacity has been built in Canada and the U.S. has forced us into an oversupply situation,'' he said. Rogel and other Weyerhaeuser executives held an analyst meeting today in New York.

Weyerhaeuser is one of Lane County's largest private employers, with about 1,600 workers.

Its main local facilities include sawmills in Cottage Grove, Coburg and Eugene, a paper mill in Springfield and a plywood mill in Springfield.

Weyerhaeuser and rival producers with mills in Canada have been hurt by U.S. import tariffs imposed last year on Canadian wood. The companies have been closing mills and firing workers to cope with falling prices. Weyerhaeuser cut 1,550 jobs last quarter, Rogel said.

Oversupply caused in part by the duties cut the average price of lumber 18 percent in the first quarter. The price has changed little so far this quarter.

``I don't see a recovery in lumber prices because of the supply and demand imbalance,'' Rogel said. ``Lumber duties have exacerbated that problem.''

The company, based in Federal Way, Wash., had a first-quarter net loss of $54 million, or 24 cents a share, because of the tariffs and costs to pay legal damages and close plants.

Savings from the job cuts made in the first quarter will begin to help earnings this quarter, Richard Taggart, chief financial officer, said.

Rogel said he is ``comfortable'' with analysts' estimates for the second quarter and full year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect Weyerhaeuser to have profit of 32 cents a share this quarter and $1.48 this year.

Shares of Weyerhaeuser fell 91 cents to $48.48 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have dropped 1.5 percent this year.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 21, 2003
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