UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number 1-6780
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Incorporated in the State of North Carolina
I.R.S. Employer Identification No. 13-2607329
1 RAYONIER WAY
WILDLIGHT, FL 32097
(Principal Executive Office)
Telephone Number: (904) 357-9100
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act:
Title of each class
COMMON SHARES, NO PAR VALUE
New York Stock Exchange
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes ☒ No o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act.
Yes o No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Yes ☒ No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
Yes ☒ No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large Accelerated Filer
Smaller Reporting Company
Emerging Growth Company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of the Common Shares of the registrant held by non-affiliates at the close of business on June 30, 2019 was $3,904,678,995 based on the closing sale price as reported on the New York Stock Exchange.
As of February 14, 2020, there were outstanding 129,333,462 Common Shares of the registrant.
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the 2020 annual meeting of the shareholders of the registrant scheduled to be held May 14, 2020, are incorporated by reference in Part III hereof.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
When we refer to “we,” “us,” “our,” “the Company,” or “Rayonier,” we mean Rayonier Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. References herein to “Notes to Financial Statements” or “Note” refer to the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements of Rayonier Inc. included in Item 8 of this Report.
NOTE ABOUT FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain statements in this document regarding anticipated financial outcomes, including Rayonier’s earnings guidance, if any, business and market conditions, outlook, expected dividend rate, business strategies, harvest schedules, timberland acquisitions, timberland sales, the anticipated benefits of Rayonier’s business strategies, and other similar statements relating to future events, developments, or financial or operational performance or results, are “forward-looking statements” made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other federal securities laws. These forward-looking statements are identified by the use of words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “estimate,” “believe,” “intend,” “project,” “anticipate” and other similar language. However, the absence of these or similar words or expressions does not mean that a statement is not forward-looking. While management believes that these forward-looking statements are reasonable when made, forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and undue reliance should not be placed on these statements. The risk factors contained in Item 1A — Risk Factors in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and similar discussions included in other reports that we subsequently file with the SEC, among others, could cause actual results or events to differ materially from the Company’s historical experience and those expressed in forward-looking statements made in this document.
Forward-looking statements are only as of the date they are made, and the Company undertakes no duty to update its forward-looking statements except as required by law. You are advised, however, to review any subsequent disclosures the Company makes on related subjects in its subsequent reports filed with the SEC.
We are a leading timberland real estate investment trust (“REIT”) with assets located in some of the most productive softwood timber growing regions in the U.S. and New Zealand. The focus of our business is to invest in timberlands and to actively manage them to provide current income and attractive long-term returns to our shareholders. As of December 31, 2019, we owned, leased or managed approximately 2.6 million acres of timberlands located in the U.S. South (1.84 million acres), U.S. Pacific Northwest (379,000 acres) and New Zealand (414,000 gross acres, or 295,000 net plantable acres). In addition, we engage in the trading of logs from New Zealand and Australia to Pacific Rim markets, primarily to support our New Zealand export operations. We have an added focus to maximize the value of our land portfolio by pursuing higher and better use (“HBU”) land sale opportunities.
We originated as the Rainier Pulp & Paper Company founded in Shelton, Washington in 1926. On June 27, 2014, Rayonier completed the tax-free spin-off of its Performance Fibers manufacturing business from its timberland and real estate operations, thereby becoming a “pure-play” timberland REIT.
Under our REIT structure, we are generally not required to pay U.S. federal income taxes on our earnings from timber harvest operations and other REIT-qualifying activities contingent upon meeting applicable distribution, income, asset, shareholder and other tests. As of December 31, 2019 and as of the date of the filing of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we believe the Company is in compliance with all REIT tests. See Note 10 — Income Taxes for further discussion of REIT and non-REIT qualifying operations.
Our shares are publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol RYN. We are a North Carolina corporation with executive offices located at 1 Rayonier Way, Wildlight, Florida 32097. Our telephone number is (904) 357-9100.
OUR COMPETITIVE STRENGTHS
We believe that we distinguish ourselves from other timberland owners and managers through the following competitive strengths:
Leading Pure-Play Timberland REIT. We are differentiated from other publicly-traded timberland REITs in that we are invested exclusively in timberlands and real estate and do not own any pulp, paper or wood products manufacturing assets. We are the largest publicly-traded “pure-play” timberland REIT, which provides our investors with a focused, large-scale timberland investment alternative without taking on the risks and volatility inherent in direct ownership of forest products manufacturing assets.
Located in Premier Softwood Growing Regions with Access to Strong Markets. Our geographically diverse timberland holdings are strategically located in core softwood producing regions, including the U.S. South, U.S. Pacific Northwest and New Zealand. Our most significant timberland holdings are located in the U.S. South, in close proximity to a variety of established pulp, paper and wood products manufacturing facilities, which provide a steady source of competitive demand for both pulpwood and higher-value sawtimber products. Our Pacific Northwest and New Zealand timberlands benefit from strong domestic sawmilling markets and are located near ports to capitalize on export markets serving the Pacific Rim.
Sophisticated Log Marketing Capabilities Serving Various Pacific Rim Markets. We conduct a log trading operation based in New Zealand that serves timberland owners in New Zealand and Australia, providing access to key export markets in China, South Korea and India. This operation provides us with superior market intelligence and economies of scale, both of which add value to our New Zealand timber portfolio. It also provides additional market intelligence that helps our Southern and Pacific Northwest export log marketing and contributes to the Company’s earnings and cash flows, with minimal investment.
Attractive Land Portfolio with HBU Potential. We own approximately 200,000 acres of timberlands located in the vicinity of Interstate 95 primarily north of Daytona Beach, FL and south of Savannah, GA, some of which have the potential to transition to HBU over time as market conditions support increased demand. These properties further provide us with select opportunities to add value to our portfolio through real estate development activities, which we believe will allow us to periodically sell parcels of such land at favorable valuations relative to timberland values through one of our taxable REIT subsidiaries.
Dedicated HBU Platform with Established Track Record. We have a dedicated HBU platform led by an experienced team with an established track record of selling rural and development HBU properties across our U.S. South holdings at strong premiums to timberland values. We maintain a detailed land classification analysis of our portfolio, which allows us to identify the highest-value use of our lands and then capitalize on identified HBU opportunities through strategies uniquely tailored to maximize value, including selectively pursuing land-use entitlements and infrastructure improvements.
Advantageous Structure and Capitalization. Under our REIT structure, we are generally not required to pay federal income taxes on our earnings from timber harvest operations and other REIT-qualifying activities, which allows us to optimize the value of our portfolio in a tax efficient manner. We also maintain a strong credit profile and have an investment grade debt rating. As of December 31, 2019, our net debt to enterprise value was 19%. We believe that our advantageous REIT structure and conservative capitalization provide us with a competitive cost of capital and significant financial flexibility to pursue growth initiatives.
Our business strategy consists of the following key elements:
Manage our Timberlands on a Sustainable Yield Basis for Long-term Results. We generate recurring income and cash flow from the harvest and sale of timber and intend to actively manage our timberlands to maximize net present value over the long term by achieving an optimal balance among biological timber growth, generation of cash flow from harvesting activities, and responsible environmental stewardship. Our harvesting strategy is designed to produce a long-term, sustainable yield, although we may adjust harvest levels periodically in response to then-current market conditions.
Apply Advanced Silviculture to Increase the Productivity of our Timberlands. We use our forestry expertise and disciplined financial approach to determine the appropriate silviculture programs and investments to maximize returns. This includes re-planting a significant portion of our harvested acres with improved seedlings we have developed through decades of research and cultivation. Over time, we expect these improved seedlings will result in higher volumes per acre and a higher value product mix.
Increase the Size and Quality of our Timberland Holdings through Acquisitions. We intend to selectively pursue timberland acquisition opportunities that improve the average productivity of our timberland holdings and support cash flow generation from our annual harvesting activities. We expect there will be an ample supply of attractive timberlands available for sale as a result of anticipated sales from a number of Timberland Investment Management Organizations (“TIMOs”). Our acquisition strategy employs a disciplined approach with rigorous adherence to strategic and financial metrics. Generally, we expect to focus our acquisition efforts on the most commercially desirable timber-producing regions of the U.S. South, the U.S. Pacific Northwest and New Zealand, particularly on timberlands with a geographic distribution and age-class profile that are complementary to our existing timberland holdings. We may also consider acquisition opportunities outside of our existing operating areas where we anticipate favorable long-term market dynamics and financial returns. We acquired 69,000 acres of fee timberland in 2019, 26,000 acres in 2018 and 90,000 acres in 2017. Additionally, we acquired leases or long-term forestry rights covering approximately 2,000 acres in 2019, 4,000 acres in 2018, and 19,000 acres in 2017.
Optimize our Portfolio Value. We continuously assess potential alternative uses of our timberlands, as some of our properties may become more valuable for development, residential, recreation or other purposes. We intend to capitalize on such higher-valued uses by opportunistically monetizing HBU properties in our portfolio. While the majority of our HBU sales involve rural and recreational land, we also selectively pursue various land-use entitlements on certain properties for residential, commercial and industrial development in order to fully realize the enhanced long-term value potential of such properties. For selected development properties, we also invest in infrastructure improvements, such as roadways and utilities, to accelerate the marketability and improve the value of such properties. We generally expect that sales of HBU property will comprise approximately 1% to 2% of our Southern timberland holdings on an annual basis.
Focus on Timberland Operations to Support Cash Flow Generation. As described above, we rely primarily on annual harvesting activities and ongoing sales of HBU properties to generate cash flow from our timberland holdings. However, we also periodically generate income and cash flow from the sale of non-strategic and/or non-HBU timberlands, in particular as we seek to optimize our portfolio by disposing of less desirable properties or to fund capital allocation priorities, including share repurchases, debt repayment or acquisitions. Our strategy is to limit reliance on planned sales of non-HBU timberlands to augment cash flow generation and instead rely primarily on supporting cash flow from the operation, rather than sale, of our timberlands. We believe this strategy will support the sustainability of our harvesting activities over the long term.
Promote Responsible Stewardship and Best-in-Class Disclosure. We are committed to responsible stewardship and environmentally and economically sustainable forestry. As such, we are focused on continuing to develop and integrate robust environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) policies and best practices within our business. We further intend to be an industry leader in transparent disclosure, particularly relating to our timberland holdings, harvest schedules, inventory, age-class profiles and other meaningful data regarding our long-term sustainability. We believe our continued commitment to transparency and the stewardship of our assets and capital will allow us to maintain our timberlands’ productivity, more effectively attract and deploy capital and enhance our reputation as a preferred timber industry supplier and employer.
The Company’s timber businesses are disaggregated into Southern Timber, Pacific Northwest Timber and New Zealand Timber segments. Sales in the Timber segments include all activities related to the harvesting of timber in addition to lease and license activities, other non-timber activities and carbon credit sales.
DISCUSSION OF TIMBER INVENTORY AND SUSTAINABLE YIELD
We define gross timber inventory as an estimate of all standing timber volume beyond the specified age at which we commence calculating our timber inventory for inclusion in our inventory tracking systems. The age at which we commence calculating our timber inventory is 10 years for our Southern timberlands, 20 years for our Pacific Northwest timberlands, and 20 years for our New Zealand timberlands. Our estimate of gross timber inventory is based on an inventory system that involves periodic statistical sampling and growth modeling. Periodic adjustments are made on the basis of growth estimates, harvest information, and environmental and operational restrictions. Gross timber inventory includes certain timber that we do not deem to be of a merchantable age as well as certain timber located in restricted, environmentally sensitive or economically inaccessible areas.
We define merchantable timber inventory as an estimate of timber volume beyond a specified age that approximates such timber’s earliest economically harvestable age. Our estimate includes certain timber located in restricted or environmentally sensitive areas based on an estimate of lawfully recoverable volumes from such areas. The estimate does not include volumes in restricted or environmentally sensitive areas that may not be lawfully harvested or volumes located in economically inaccessible areas. The merchantable age (i.e., the age at which timber moves from pre-merchantable to merchantable) is 15 years for our Southern timberlands, with the exception of Oklahoma which is 17 years, 35 years for our Pacific Northwest timberlands, and 20 years for radiata pine and 30 years for Douglas-fir in our New Zealand timberlands. Our estimated merchantable timber inventory changes over time as timber is harvested, as pre-merchantable timber transitions to merchantable timber, as existing merchantable timber inventory grows, as we acquire and sell timberland and as we periodically update our statistical sampling and growth and yield models. We estimate our merchantable timber inventory annually for purposes of calculating per unit depletion rates.
Timber inventory is generally measured and expressed in short green tons (SGT) in our Southern timberlands, in thousand board feet (MBF) or million board feet (MMBF) in our Pacific Northwest timberlands, and in cubic meters (m3) in our New Zealand timberlands. For conversion purposes, one MBF and one m3 is equal to approximately 8.0 and 1.12 short green tons, respectively. For comparison purposes, we provide inventory estimates for our Pacific Northwest and New Zealand timberlands in MBF and cubic meters, respectively, as well as in short green tons.
The following table sets forth the estimated volumes of merchantable timber inventory by location in short green tons as of September 30, 2019 for the South and Pacific Northwest and as of December 31, 2019 for New Zealand:
(volumes in thousands of SGT)
Merchantable Inventory (a)
For all regions, depletion rate calculations for the upcoming year are based on estimated volumes of merchantable inventory at December 31, 2019.
We define sustainable yield as the average harvest level that can be sustained into perpetuity based on our estimates of biological growth and the expected productivity resulting from our reforestation and silvicultural efforts. Our estimated sustainable yield may change over time based on changes in silvicultural techniques and resulting timber yields, changes in environmental laws and restrictions, changes in the statistical sampling and estimates of our merchantable timber inventory, acquisitions and dispositions of timberlands, the expiration or renewal of timberland leases, casualty losses, and other factors. Moreover, our harvest level in any given year may deviate from our estimated sustainable yield due to variations in the age class of our timberlands, the product mix of our harvest (i.e., pulpwood versus sawtimber), our deliberate acceleration or deferral of harvest in response to market conditions, our thinning activity (in which we periodically remove some smaller trees from a stand to enhance long-term sawtimber potential of the remaining timber), or other factors. We estimate sustainable yield for each of our Timber segments as of December 31, 2019.
We manage our U.S. timberlands in accordance with the requirements of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (“SFI”) program. The timberland holdings of the New Zealand subsidiary are certified under the Forest Stewardship Council® (“FSC”). The majority of our New Zealand timberland holdings are also certified under the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (“PEFC”). All programs are comprehensive systems of environmental principles, objectives and performance measures that combine the perpetual growing and harvesting of trees with the protection of wildlife, plants, soil and water quality. Through application of our site-specific silvicultural expertise and financial discipline, we manage timber in a way that is designed to optimize site preparation, tree species selection, competition control, fertilization, timing of thinning and final harvest. We also have a genetic seedling improvement program to enhance the productivity and quality of our timberlands and overall forest health. In addition, non-timber income opportunities associated with our timberlands such as recreational licenses, as well as considerations for the future HBU of the land, are integral parts of our site-specific management philosophy. All of these activities are designed to maximize value while complying with SFI, FSC and PEFC requirements.
As of December 31, 2019, our Southern timberlands acreage consisted of approximately 1.84 million acres (including approximately 161,000 acres of leased lands) located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Approximately two-thirds of this land supports intensively managed plantations of predominantly loblolly and slash pine. The other one-third of this land is too wet to support pine plantations, but supports productive natural stands primarily consisting of natural pine and a variety of hardwood species. Rotation ages typically range from 21 to 28 years for pine plantations and from 35 to 60 years for natural stands. Key consumers of our timber include pulp, paper, wood products and biomass facilities.
We estimate that the gross timber inventory and merchantable timber inventory of our Southern timberlands was 85 million tons and 68 million tons, respectively, as of September 30, 2019. We estimate that the sustainable yield of our Southern timberlands, including both pine and hardwoods, is approximately 6.1 to 6.5 million tons annually. We expect that the average annual harvest volume of our Southern timberlands over the next five years (2020 to 2024) will be generally in line with our sustainable yield. For additional information, see Item 1 — Business — Discussion of Timber Inventory and Sustainable Yield and Item 1A — Risk Factors.
The following table provides a breakdown of our Southern timberlands acreage and timber inventory by product and age class as of September 30, 2019 (inventory volumes are estimated at December 31 to calculate a depletion rate for the upcoming year):
(volumes in thousands of SGT)
0 to 4 years (a)
5 to 9 years
10 to 14 years
15 to 19 years
20 to 24 years
25 to 29 years
30 + years
Total Pine Plantation
Natural Pine (Plantable) (b)
Natural Mixed Pine/Hardwood (c)
Forested Acres and Gross Inventory
Plus: Non-Forested Acres (d)
Less: Pre-Merchantable Age Class
Less: Volume in Environmentally
Sensitive/Legally Restricted Areas
Merchantable Timber Inventory
0 to 4 years includes clearcut acres not yet replanted.
Consists of natural stands that are convertible into pine plantations once harvested.
Consists of all non-plantable natural stands, including those that are in environmentally sensitive or economically inaccessible areas.
Includes roads, rights of way and all other non-forested areas.
Includes inventory that is less than 15 years old or less than 17 years old in Oklahoma.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST TIMBER
As of December 31, 2019, our Pacific Northwest timberlands consisted of approximately 379,000 acres located in Oregon and Washington, of which approximately 300,000 acres were designated as productive acres, meaning land that is capable of growing merchantable timber and where the harvesting of timber is not constrained by physical, environmental or regulatory restrictions. These timberlands primarily comprise second and third rotation western hemlock and Douglas-fir, as well as a small amount of other softwood species, such as western red cedar. A small percentage also consists of natural hardwood stands of predominantly red alder. In the Pacific Northwest, rotation ages typically range from 35 to 50 years. Our product mix in the Pacific Northwest is heavily weighted to sawtimber, which is sold to domestic wood products facilities as well as exported primarily to Pacific Rim markets.
We estimate that the gross timber inventory and merchantable timber inventory of our Pacific Northwest timberlands was 2,811 MMBF and 891 MMBF, respectively, as of September 30, 2019. We estimate that the sustainable yield of our Pacific Northwest timberlands is approximately 175 to 180 MMBF (or 1.4 million tons) annually. We expect that the average annual harvest volume of our Pacific Northwest timberlands over the next five years (2020 to 2024) will be modestly below our sustainable yield. For additional information, see Item 1 — Business — Discussion of Timber Inventory and Sustainable Yield and Item 1A — Risk Factors. In 2019, we acquired approximately 2,000 acres of timberlands in the Pacific Northwest region. For additional information, see Note 3 — Timberland Acquisitions.
The following table provides a breakdown of our Pacific Northwest timberlands acreage and timber inventory by product and age class as of September 30, 2019 (inventory volumes are estimated at December 31 to calculate a depletion rate for the upcoming year):
(volumes in MBF, except as noted)
0 to 4 years (a)
5 to 9 years
10 to 14 years
15 to 19 years
20 to 24 years
25 to 29 years
30 to 34 years
35 to 39 years
40 to 44 years
45 to 49 years
Total Commercial Forest
Non-Commercial Forest (b)
Productive Forested Acres
Restricted Forest (c)
Total Forested Acres and Gross Inventory
Plus: Non-Forested Acres (d)
Less: Pre-Merchantable Age Class Inventory
Less: Restricted Forest Inventory
Total Merchantable Timber
Conversion factor for MBF to SGT
Total Merchantable Timber (thousands of SGT)
0 to 4 years includes clearcut acres not yet replanted.
Includes non-commercial forests with limited productivity.
Includes significant portions of riparian management zones, legally restricted forests, and environmentally sensitive areas.
Includes roads, rights of way, and all other non-forested areas.
Includes a minor component of hardwood in red alder and other species.
NEW ZEALAND TIMBER
As of December 31, 2019, our New Zealand timberlands consisted of approximately 414,000 acres (including approximately 229,000 acres of leased lands), of which approximately 295,000 acres (including approximately 154,000 acres of leased lands) were designated as productive or plantation acres, meaning land that is capable of growing merchantable timber and where the harvesting of timber is not constrained by physical, environmental or regulatory restrictions. The leased acres are generally leased through long-term arrangements including Crown Forest Licenses (“CFLs”), forestry rights and other leases. Our New Zealand timberlands serve a domestic sawmilling market and also export logs to Pacific Rim markets.
Our New Zealand timber operations are conducted by Matariki Forestry Group, a joint venture with Stafford Capital Partners Limited. The Company maintains a controlling financial interest of 77% in the New Zealand subsidiary and, accordingly, consolidates the New Zealand subsidiary’s balance sheet and results of operations. The minority owner’s interest in the New Zealand subsidiary and its earnings are reported as noncontrolling interest in our financial statements. Rayonier’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Rayonier New Zealand Limited (“RNZ”), serves as the manager of the New Zealand subsidiary. For additional information, see Note 8 — New Zealand Subsidiary. We estimate that the gross timber inventory and merchantable timber inventory of our New Zealand timberlands were both 14.6 million cubic meters as of December 31, 2019. We estimate that the sustainable yield of our New Zealand timberlands is approximately 2.1 to 2.4 million cubic meters (or 2.4 to 2.7 million tons) annually. We expect that the average annual harvest volume of our New Zealand timberlands over the next five years (2020 to 2024) will be at the higher end of our sustainable yield range. For additional information, see Item 1 — Business — Discussion of Timber Inventory and Sustainable Yield and Item 1A — Risk Factors. In 2019, we acquired approximately 9,000 acres of timberland (including approximately 2,000 acres of leased land) in New Zealand. For additional information, see Note 3 — Timberland Acquisitions.
The following table provides a breakdown of our New Zealand timberlands acreage and timber inventory by product and age class as of December 31, 2019 (inventory volumes at December 31 are used to calculate a depletion rate for the upcoming year):
(volumes in thousands of m3, except as noted)
0 to 4 years (a)
5 to 9 years
10 to 14 years
15 to 19 years
20 to 24 years
25 to 29 years
30 + years
Total Radiata Pine
Forested Acres and Merchantable Timber Inventory
Conversion factor for m3 to SGT
Total Merchantable Timber (thousands of SGT)
Plus: Non-Productive Acres (c)
0 to 4 years includes clearcut acres not yet replanted.
Includes primarily Douglas-fir age 30 and over.
Includes natural forest and other non-planted acres.
All of our U.S. and New Zealand land or leasehold sales, including HBU and non-HBU, are reported in our Real Estate segment. We report our Real Estate sales in five categories:
•Timberlands & Non-Strategic, and
The Improved Development category comprises properties sold for development for which Rayonier, through a taxable REIT subsidiary, has invested in site improvements such as infrastructure, roadways, utilities, amenities and/or other improvements designed to enhance marketability and create parcels, pads and/or lots for sale.
The Unimproved Development category comprises properties sold for development for which Rayonier has not invested in site improvements.
The Rural category comprises properties sold in rural markets to buyers interested in the property for rural residential, recreational or other higher and better use purposes.
The Timberlands & Non-Strategic category includes U.S. and New Zealand: 1) sales of non-core timberlands that do not meet our strategic criteria, 2) sales of core timberlands for which we obtain attractive values, and 3) sales of properties to conservation interests that wish to preserve the land for habitat, public recreation, natural growth, buffer zones or other environmental purposes.
The Large Dispositions category includes sales of timberland that exceed $20 million in size and do not have a demonstrable premium relative to timberland value. Proceeds from Large Dispositions are generally used to fund capital allocation priorities, such as share repurchases, debt repayment or acquisitions. Sales designated as Large Dispositions are excluded from cash flow from operations and the calculation of Adjusted EBITDA and Cash Available for Distribution (“CAD”). See Item 7 — Performance and Liquidity Indicators for the definition of Adjusted EBITDA and CAD.
We maintain a detailed land classification analysis for all of our timberland and HBU acres. The vast majority of our HBU properties are managed as timberland and generate cash flow from timber operations prior to their sale or, in the case of Improved Development properties, prior to improvement.
Our Trading segment primarily reflects log trading activities in New Zealand and Australia conducted by our New Zealand subsidiary. Our Trading segment complements the New Zealand Timber segment by providing added market intelligence, increasing the scale of export operations and achieving cost savings that directly benefit the New Zealand Timber segment. This additional market intelligence also benefits our Southern and Pacific Northwest export log marketing efforts. Trading activities are broadly categorized into procured logs, managed export services or marketing fees.
For procured logs, the New Zealand subsidiary buys logs directly from other forest owners at New Zealand ports and exports them in its own name. Income from this business is generated by achieving a sales margin over the purchase price of the procured logs. The New Zealand subsidiary, through the Trading segment, also purchases standing timber from time to time, whereby it manages the harvest and sale of the logs for approximately one to three years. In these instances, the cost of standing timber is capitalized as a current asset on the Consolidated Balance Sheets and recognized as non-depletion cost of sales when sold. Revenue generated from procured log sales reflects the full sales price of the logs and is recorded as timber sales within the Trading segment. In 2019, Trading volume from procured logs was approximately 1.1 million tons. Of this volume, approximately 299,000 tons were sourced from outside New Zealand, primarily Australia. Approximately 770,000 tons were purchased directly from third parties in New Zealand, while the remaining 38,000 tons were harvested from stumpage purchases. Approximately 52% of third-party purchases in New Zealand were purchased at spot prices, with the New Zealand subsidiary thereby assuming some price risk on subsequent resale. The remaining 48% were purchased on a fixed margin basis, with the New Zealand subsidiary earning either a fixed percentage of the net export revenue or a spread on the resale price irrespective
of subsequent price fluctuations. The New Zealand subsidiary generally seeks to mitigate its risk of loss on procured logs by securing export orders prior to or concurrent with its spot purchases of logs.
For managed export services, the New Zealand subsidiary does not take title to the log cargo but arranges sales, shipping and export documentation services for other forest owners for an agreed commission. Managed export service arrangements are primarily used for logs sourced from third parties outside of New Zealand. Revenue generated from managed export services reflects only the commission earned on the sale, as the New Zealand subsidiary does not take title to the logs. Managed export service revenue is recorded as non-timber sales within the Trading segment.
The Trading segment also generates income from commissions and logistical services provided through our log trading activities. This income is recorded in other operating (expense) income, net as log trading marketing fees.
FOREIGN SALES AND OPERATIONS
Sales from non-U.S. operations occur in our Real Estate, New Zealand Timber and Trading segments and comprised approximately 50% of consolidated 2019 sales. See Note 5 — Segment and Geographical Information for additional information.
Timber markets in our Southern and Pacific Northwest regions are relatively fragmented with price being the principal method of competition. In New Zealand, there are four other major private timberland owners accounting for approximately 32% of New Zealand planted forests.
The following table provides an overview of certain major competitors in each of our Timber segments:
Southern Timber (a)
CatchMark Timber Trust
Hancock Timber Resource Group
Resource Management Service
Forest Investment Associates
Pacific Northwest Timber (a)
Hancock Timber Resource Group
Green Diamond Resource Company
Port Blakely Tree Farms
State of Washington Department of Natural Resources
Bureau of Indian Affairs
New Zealand (b)
Hancock Natural Resource Group
(a) In addition to the competitors listed, we also compete with numerous other large and small privately held timber companies.
The New Zealand subsidiary competes with these and other smaller New Zealand timber companies for supply into New Zealand domestic and export markets, predominantly China, South Korea and India. Logs supplied into Asian markets also compete with export supply from other regions, including Europe, North America and Australia.
In our Real Estate business, we compete with other owners of entitled and unentitled properties. Each property has unique attributes, but overall quantity of supply and price for residential, commercial, industrial and rural properties in the geographic areas in which we operate are the most significant competitive drivers.
Our log trading operations are based out of New Zealand and performed by our New Zealand subsidiary. The New Zealand market remains very competitive with over 20 entities competing for export log supply at different ports across the country. We are one of the larger log trading companies in the region with access to multiple export ports and a range of different export markets.
In 2019, no individual customer (or group of customers under common control) represented 10% or more of 2019 consolidated sales.
Across all our segments, results are normally not impacted significantly by seasonal changes. However, significant wet weather in areas of our Southern Timber operations can hinder access for harvesting, thereby temporarily reducing supply in the affected areas and generally strengthening prices. Conversely, extended dry weather in an area tends to suppress prices as timber is more accessible for harvesting.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
The research and development activities of our timber operations include genetic seedling improvement, growth and yield modeling, and applied silvicultural programs to identify management practices that will improve financial returns from our timberlands. We also contribute to research cooperatives that undertake forestry research and development.
INFORMATION ABOUT OUR EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
David L. Nunes, 58, Mr. Nunes joined the Company in June 2014 as Chief Operating Officer, and shortly thereafter assumed the role of President and CEO following the Company’s spin-off of its Performance Fibers business. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Nunes served as President and CEO of Pope Resources/Olympic Resource Management from 2002 to 2014. He joined Pope in 1997 as director of portfolio management. The following year, he was named Vice President of portfolio development, and then served two years as Senior Vice President of acquisitions and portfolio development before being named President and COO in 2000. Previously, Mr. Nunes spent nine years with the Weyerhaeuser Company, joining the organization in 1988 as a business analyst and advancing through a number of leadership roles to become director of corporate strategic planning. Mr. Nunes holds a Bachelors of Arts and Economics from Pomona College and an MBA from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.
Mark D. McHugh, 44, Mr. McHugh was appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in December 2014. He was previously Managing Director in the Real Estate Investment Banking group at Raymond James, where he worked since 2008. Prior to joining Raymond James, Mr. McHugh was a Director in the Paper & Forest Products Group within the Investment Banking Division at Credit Suisse, where he worked from 2000 to 2008. Mr. McHugh received his B.S.B.A. in Finance from the University of Central Florida and his JD from Harvard Law School.
Douglas M. Long, 49, Mr. Long currently serves as Senior Vice President, Forest Resources. Previously, he served as Vice President, U.S. Operations from November 2014 to December 2015 and as Director, Atlantic Region, U.S. Forest Resources from March 2014 to November 2014. He joined the Company in 1995 as a GIS Forestry Analyst and has held multiple positions of increasing responsibility within the forestry division. Mr. Long holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida.
Christopher T. Corr, 56, Mr. Corr joined the Company in July 2013 and currently serves as Senior Vice President, Real Estate Development and President, Raydient LLC. Prior to joining Rayonier, he served as Executive Vice President, Buildings and Places for AECOM from 2008 to 2013. Prior to that, Mr. Corr held various positions with The St. Joe Company between 1998 and 2008, most recently as Executive Vice President. From 1992 to 1998, Mr. Corr was a senior manager with The Walt Disney Company, where he was a key member of the team that developed the visionary town of Celebration near Orlando, Florida. From 1990-1992, Mr. Corr served as an elected member of the Florida House of Representatives. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida and has completed programs with the Harvard Real Estate Institute and the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania.
Mark R. Bridwell, 57, Mr. Bridwell was promoted to Vice President and General Counsel in June 2014 and assumed the role of Corporate Secretary in March 2015. He joined the Company in 2006 as Associate General Counsel for Performance Fibers. In 2009, he became Associate General Counsel for Timber and Real Estate and in 2012 was promoted to Assistant General Counsel for Land Resources. Prior to joining Rayonier, Mr. Bridwell served as counsel for six years at Siemens Corporation. Previously, he was an attorney for five years with the international law firms of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue and Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson. Mr. Bridwell has a B.S.B.A. in Finance from the University of Central Florida, and an MBA and JD from Emory University.
Shelby L. Pyatt, 49, Ms. Pyatt was named Vice President, Human Resources and Information Technology in July 2014. Ms. Pyatt joined Rayonier in 2003 as Manager, Compensation and became Director, Compensation and Employee Services in 2006. She was named Director, Compensation, Benefits and Employee Services in 2009 before being promoted to her current position. Prior to joining Rayonier, Ms. Pyatt held human resources positions with CSX Corporation and Barnett Bank. Ms. Pyatt holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management.
W. Rhett Rogers, 43, Mr. Rogers was appointed to Vice President, Portfolio Management in February 2017. Mr. Rogers oversees the Company’s acquisition and disposition activities, including HBU and non-strategic land sales, as well as its land information systems function. He joined Rayonier in 2001 as a District Technical Forester, and has held numerous roles of increasing responsibility, most recently as Director, Land Asset Management before being promoted to his current position. Mr. Rogers holds a BS in Forestry from Louisiana Tech University, and both an MBA and MS in Forest Resources from Mississippi State University.
April J. Tice, 46, Ms. Tice was promoted to Vice President, Financial Services and Corporate Controller in March 2019. In this position, she acts as the Company’s principal accounting officer. She joined Rayonier in 2010 and has worked in various roles within the finance and financial reporting departments since that time. She previously served as Director, Financial Services and Corporate Controller before being promoted to her current position. Prior to joining Rayonier, Ms. Tice served in various accounting and/or audit roles at Deloitte & Touche, the State of Florida and two private companies located in Florida. Ms. Tice holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Florida State University and a Master of Accountancy with a tax concentration from the University of North Florida. Ms. Tice is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Florida.
We employ 353 people, of which 260 are in the United States. We believe relations with our employees are satisfactory.
AVAILABILITY OF REPORTS AND OTHER INFORMATION
Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a) or 14 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 are made available to the public free of charge in the Investor Relations section of our website, www.rayonier.com, shortly after we electronically file such material with, or furnish them to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Our corporate governance guidelines and charters of all committees of our board of directors are also available on our website. The information on the Company’s website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our operations are subject to a number of risks. When considering an investment in our securities, you should carefully read and consider these risks, together with all other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. If any of the events described in the following risk factors actually occur, our business, financial condition or operating results, as well as the market price of our securities, could be materially adversely affected.
We are exposed to the cyclicality of the markets in which we operate and other factors beyond our control, which could adversely affect our results of operations.
Some of the industries in which our end-use customers participate, such as the construction and home building industries, the global pulp, packaging and paper industries and the real estate industry, are cyclical in nature, exposing us to risks beyond our control, including general macroeconomic conditions, both in the U.S. and globally, as well as local economic conditions.
In our Timber segments, the level of residential construction activity, including home repair and remodeling activity, is the primary driver of sawtimber demand. In addition, demand for logs can be affected by the demand for wood chips in the pulp and paper and engineered wood products markets, as well as the bio-energy production markets. The ongoing level of activity in these markets is subject to fluctuation due to future changes in economic conditions, interest rates, credit availability, population growth, weather conditions and other factors. Changes in global economic conditions, such as new timber supply sources and changes in currency exchange rates, foreign interest rates and foreign and domestic trade policies, can also negatively impact demand for our timber and logs. In addition, the industries in which our customers participate are highly competitive and may experience overcapacity or reductions in demand, all of which may affect demand for and pricing of our products.
In our Real Estate segment, our inability to sell our HBU properties at attractive prices could have a significant effect on our results of operations. Demand for real estate can be affected by the availability of capital, changes in interest rates, availability and terms of financing, changes in governmental agencies, changes in developer confidence, actions by conservation organizations, actions by anti-development organizations, our ability to obtain land use entitlements and other permits necessary for our development activities, local real estate market economic conditions, competition from other sellers of land and real estate developers, the relative illiquidity of real estate investments, employment rates, new housing starts, population growth, demographics and federal, state and local land use, zoning and environmental protection laws or regulations (including any changes in laws or regulations). In addition, changes in investor interest in purchasing timberlands could reduce our ability to execute sales of non-strategic timberlands.
These macroeconomic and cyclical factors impacting our operations are beyond our control and, if such conditions deteriorate, could have an adverse effect on our business.
Weather and other natural conditions may limit our timber harvest and sales.
Weather conditions, changes in timber growth cycles, limitations on access (for example, due to prolonged wet conditions) and other factors, including damage by fire, insect infestation, disease, prolonged drought and natural disasters such as wind storms and hurricanes, may limit harvesting of our timberlands. The volume and value of timber that can be harvested from our timberlands may be reduced by any such occurrence and other causes beyond our control. As is typical in the forestry industry, we do not maintain insurance for any loss to our timber, including losses due to fire and these other causes. These and other factors beyond our control could reduce our timber inventory and our sustainable yield, thereby adversely affecting our financial results and cash flows.
We are subject to various risks related to the proposed merger transaction with Pope Resources.
As described elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the Company has entered into a definitive merger agreement (the “Merger Agreement”) with Pope Resources, A Delaware Limited Partnership (“Pope Resources”) pursuant to which the Company will acquire Pope Resources for consideration consisting of a mix of cash and equity. The risks, contingencies and other uncertainties that could result in the failure of the transactions anticipated in the Merger Agreement (the “Proposed Merger Transactions”) to be completed or, if completed, that could have a material adverse effect on the results of operations, cash flows and financial position of the Company following the Proposed Merger Transactions, and any anticipated benefits of the Proposed Merger Transactions to the Company, include:
the failure to obtain necessary regulatory or other approvals of the Proposed Merger Transactions, which could result in a material delay in, or the abandonment of, the Proposed Merger Transactions or otherwise have a material adverse effect on Rayonier or Pope Resources, or if obtained, the possibility of Rayonier being
subjected to conditions that could reduce or delay the expected cost savings and other benefits of the Proposed Merger Transactions;
the failure to obtain necessary Pope Resources limited partnership unitholder and general partnership stockholder approvals of the Proposed Merger Transactions;
the obligation of Rayonier to complete the Proposed Merger Transactions even if financing is not available or is available only on terms other than those currently anticipated;
the failure to satisfy required closing conditions or complete the Proposed Merger Transactions in a timely manner or at all;
the effect of the announcement of the Proposed Merger Transactions on each company’s ability to retain and hire key personnel, maintain business relationships, and on operating results and business generally;
the risk that the Company may not be able to maintain its investment grade rating;
the potential impact of the Proposed Merger Transactions on the stock price of the Company, and the dividends expected to be paid to Company stockholders in the future;
the failure to realize projected cost savings and other benefits from the Proposed Merger Transactions;
the incurrence of significant pre- and post-transaction related costs in connection with the Proposed Merger Transactions that are, and will be, incurred regardless of whether the Proposed Merger Transactioons are completed; and
the occurrence of any event giving rise to the right of a party to terminate the Merger Agreement.
Entitlement and development of real estate entail a lengthy, uncertain and costly approval process, which could adversely affect our ability to grow the businesses in our Real Estate segment.
Entitlement and development of real estate entail extensive approval processes involving multiple regulatory jurisdictions. It is common for a project to require multiple approvals, permits and consents from U.S. federal, state and local governing and regulatory bodies. For example, in Florida, real estate projects must generally comply with the provisions of the Community Planning Act and local land use, zoning and development regulations. In addition, development projects in Florida that exceed certain specified regulatory thresholds (and are not located in a jurisdiction classified as a dense urban land area or otherwise statutorily exempt) may require approval pursuant to the Comprehensive Plan process standards. Compliance with these and other regulations and standards is more time intensive and costly and may require additional long range infrastructure review and approvals, which can add to project cost. In addition, development of properties containing delineated wetlands may be affected by revisions to the definition of wetlands subject to state and/or federal regulation and may require one or more permits from the U.S. federal government and/or state and local governmental agencies. Any of these issues can materially affect the cost, timing and economic viability of our real estate projects.
The real estate entitlement process is frequently a political one, which involves uncertainty and often extensive negotiation and concessions in order to secure and maintain the necessary approvals and permits. In the U.S., a significant amount of our development property is located in jurisdictions in which local governments face challenging issues relating to growth and development, including zoning and future land use, public services, water availability, transportation and other infrastructure, and funding for same, and the requirements of state law, especially in the case of Florida under the Community Planning Act process standards. In addition, anti-development groups are active, especially in Florida, in filing litigation to oppose particular entitlement activities and development projects, and in seeking legislation and other anti-development limitations on real estate development activities. We expect this type of anti-development activity to continue in the future.
Entitlement and development of real estate are also subject to lengthy, uncertain and costly implementation processes. Real estate development requires adequate soil and land conditions, water resources, access and utility infrastructure, labor force, and weather conditions. Requirements for these items may vary depending upon the contemplated development of the land for residential, commercial or industrial users, and may change from time to
time, including from the period of entitlement to the delivery of a developed property. Large-scale developments may involve commitments from government agencies or third parties related to the delivery of infrastructure improvements (such as roads, bridges, sidewalks, water, sewer and other utilities), the certainty and timing of which are outside of our control. An adverse change in any of these items could materially affect the cost, timing and economic viability of our real estate projects.
Changes in the laws, or interpretation or enforcement thereof, regarding the use and development of real estate, changes in the political composition of state and local governmental bodies, and the identification of new facts regarding our properties could lead to new or greater costs, delays and liabilities that could materially adversely affect our business, profitability or financial condition.
Changes in energy and fuel costs could affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Energy costs are a significant operating expense for our logging and hauling contractors and for the contractors who support the customers of our standing timber. Energy costs can be volatile and are susceptible to rapid and substantial increases or decreases due to factors beyond our control, such as changing economic conditions, changing environmental regulations, political unrest, instability in energy-producing nations, and supply and demand considerations. Increases in the price of oil could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, an increase in fuel costs, and its impact on the cost and availability of transportation for our products, both domestically and internationally, and the cost and availability of third-party logging and hauling contractors, could have a material adverse effect on the operating costs of our contractors and our standing timber customers, as well as in defining economically accessible timber stands. Such factors could in turn have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, particularly in our Timber segments and Trading segment.
We depend on third parties for logging and transportation services and increases in the costs or decreases in the availability of quality service providers could adversely affect our business.
Our Timber segments depend on logging and transportation services provided by third parties, both domestically and internationally, including by railroad, trucks, or ships. If any of our transportation providers were to fail to deliver timber supply or logs to our customers in a timely manner, or were to damage timber supply or logs during transport, we may be unable to sell it at full value, or at all. During the global financial crisis and subsequent downturn in U.S. housing starts, timber harvest volumes declined significantly. As a result, many logging contractors, particularly cable logging operators in the western U.S., permanently shut down their operations. As harvest levels have returned to higher levels with the recovery in U.S. housing starts, this shortage of logging contractors has resulted in sharp increases in logging costs and more limited availability of logging contractors. It is expected that the supply of qualified logging contractors will be impacted by the availability of debt financing for equipment purchases as well as the availability of adequately trained loggers. As housing starts continue to recover, harvest levels are expected to increase, placing more pressure on the existing supply of logging contractors. Any significant failure or unavailability of third-party logging or transportation providers, or increases in transportation rates or fuel costs, may result in higher logging costs or the inability to capitalize on stronger log prices to the extent logging contractors cannot be secured at a competitive cost. Such events could harm our reputation, negatively affect our customer relationships and adversely affect our business.
We are subject to risks associated with doing business outside of the U.S.
Although the majority of our customers are in the U.S., a significant portion of our sales are to end markets outside of the U.S., including China, South Korea, Japan, India, and New Zealand. The export of our products into international markets results in risks inherent in conducting business pursuant to international laws, regulations and customs. We expect that international sales will continue to contribute to future growth. The risks associated with our business outside the U.S. include:
changes in and reinterpretations of the laws, regulations and enforcement priorities of the countries in which our products are sold;
responsibility to comply with anti-bribery laws such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar anti-bribery laws in other jurisdictions;
trade protection laws, policies and measures and other regulatory requirements affecting trade and investment, including loss or modification of exemptions for taxes and tariffs, imposition of new tariffs and duties and import and export licensing requirements;
continuing negative impacts from the imposition and/or threatened imposition of substantial tariffs on forest products imports into China in connection with current trade tensions between China and the U.S.;
business disruptions arising from public health crises and outbreaks of communicable diseases, especially in China, including the recent outbreak of the virus known as the coronavirus;
difficulty in establishing, staffing and managing non-U.S. operations;
product damage or losses incurred during shipping;
potentially negative consequences from changes in or interpretations of tax laws;
economic or political instability, inflation, recessions and interest rate and exchange rate fluctuations;
uncertainties regarding non-U.S. judicial systems, rules and procedures; and
uncertainties regarding trade policies implemented and/or under consideration by the current U.S. presidential administration.
These risks could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our estimates of timber inventories and growth rates may be inaccurate, which could impair our ability to realize expected revenues.
We rely upon estimates of merchantable timber inventories (which include judgments regarding inventories that may be lawfully and economically harvested), timber growth rates and end-product yields when acquiring and managing working forests. These estimates, which are inherently inexact and uncertain in nature, are central to forecasting our anticipated timber revenues and expected cash flows. Growth rates and end-product yield estimates are developed using statistical sampling, harvest results and growth and yield modeling, in conjunction with industry research cooperatives and by in-house forest biometricians, using measurements of trees in research plots spread across our timberland holdings. The growth equations predict the rate of height and diameter growth of trees so that foresters can estimate the volume of timber that may be present in a tree stand at a given age. Tree growth varies by species, soil type, geographic area, and climate. Errors in or inappropriate application of growth equations in forest management planning may lead to inaccurate estimates of future volumes. If the assumptions we rely upon change or these estimates are inaccurate, our ability to manage our timberlands in a sustainable or profitable manner may be diminished, which may cause our results of operations and our stock price to be adversely affected.
Our businesses are subject to extensive environmental laws and regulations that may restrict or adversely affect our ability to conduct our business.
Environmental laws and regulations are constantly changing and are generally becoming more restrictive. Laws, regulations and related judicial decisions and administrative interpretations affecting our business are subject to change, and new laws and regulations are frequently enacted. These changes may adversely affect our ability to harvest and sell timber, remediate contaminated properties and/or entitle real estate. These laws and regulations may relate to, among other things, the protection of timberlands and endangered species, recreation and aesthetics, protection and restoration of natural resources, surface water quality, timber harvesting practices, and remedial standards for contaminated property and groundwater. Over time, the complexity and stringency of these laws and regulations have increased and the enforcement of these laws and regulations has intensified. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has pursued a number of initiatives that, if implemented, could impose additional operational and pollution control obligations on industrial facilities like those of Rayonier’s customers, especially in the area of air emissions and wastewater and stormwater control. In addition, as a result of certain judicial rulings and state and federal initiatives, including some that would require timberland operators to obtain permits to conduct certain ordinary course forestry activities, silvicultural practices on our timberlands could be impacted in the future. Environmental laws and regulations will likely continue to become more restrictive and over time could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If regulatory and environmental permits are delayed, restricted or rejected, a variety of our operations could be adversely affected. We are required to seek permission from government agencies in the states and countries in which we operate to perform certain activities related to our properties. Any of these agencies could delay review of, or reject, any of our filings. In our Southern Timber, Pacific Northwest Timber and New Zealand Timber segments, any delay associated with a filing could result in a delay or restriction in replanting, thinning, insect control, fire control or harvesting, any of which could have an adverse effect on our operating results. For example, in Washington State, we are required
to file a Forest Practice Application for each unit of timberland to be harvested. These applications may be denied, conditioned or restricted by the regulatory agency. Actions by the regulatory agencies could delay or restrict timber harvest activities pursuant to these permits. Delays or harvest restrictions on a significant number of applications could have an adverse effect on our operating results.
Environmental groups and interested individuals may seek to delay or prevent a variety of operations. We expect that environmental groups and interested individuals will intervene with increasing frequency in the regulatory processes in the states and countries where we own, lease or manage timberlands. For example, in Washington State, environmental groups and interested individuals may appeal individual forest practice applications or file petitions with the Forest Practices Board to challenge the regulations under which forest practices are approved. These and other challenges could materially delay or prevent operations on our properties. For example, interveners at times may bring legal action in Florida in opposition to entitlement and change of use of timberlands to commercial, industrial or residential use. Delays or restrictions due to the intervention of environmental groups or interested individuals could adversely affect our operating results. In addition to intervention in regulatory proceedings, interested groups and individuals may file or threaten to file lawsuits that seek to prevent us from obtaining permits, implementing capital improvements or pursuing operating plans. Any threatened or actual lawsuit could delay harvesting on our timberlands, affect how we operate or limit our ability to modify or invest in our real estate. Among the remedies that could be enforced in a lawsuit is a judgment preventing or restricting harvesting on a portion of our timberlands.
Third-party operators may create environmental liabilities. We lease and/or grant easements across some of our properties to third-party operators for the purpose of operating communications towers, generating renewable energy (wind and solar), operating pipelines for the transport of gases and liquids, and exploring, extracting, developing and producing oil, gas, rock and other minerals. These activities are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations. These operations may also create risk of environmental liabilities for an unlawful discharge of oil, gas, chemicals or other materials into the air, soil or water. Generally, these third-party operators indemnify us against any such liability, and we require that they maintain liability insurance to the extent practical to do so. However, if for any reason our third-party operators are not able to honor their obligations to us, or if insurance is not in effect, then it is possible that we could be responsible for costs associated with environmental liabilities caused by such third-party operators.
The impact of existing regulatory restrictions on future harvesting activities may be significant. U.S. federal, state and local laws and regulations, as well as those of other countries, which are intended to protect threatened and endangered species, as well as waterways and wetlands, limit and may prevent timber harvesting, road building and other activities on our timberlands. Restrictions relating to threatened and endangered species apply to activities that would adversely impact a protected species or significantly degrade its habitat. The size of the restricted area varies depending on the protected species, the time of year and other factors, but can range from less than one acre to several thousand acres. A number of species that naturally live on or near our timberlands, including, among others, the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, several species of salmon and trout in the Pacific Northwest, and the red cockaded woodpecker, red hills salamander, Louisiana pine snake and eastern indigo snake in the Southeast, are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act (the “ESA”) or similar U.S. federal and state laws. A significant number of other species, such as the southeastern gopher tortoise are currently under review for possible protection under the ESA. As we gain additional information regarding the presence of threatened or endangered species on our timberlands, or if other regulations, such as those that require buffers to protect water bodies, become more restrictive, the amount of our timberlands subject to harvest restrictions could increase.
We formerly owned or operated or may own or acquire timberlands or properties that may require environmental remediation or otherwise be subject to environmental and other liabilities. We owned or operated manufacturing facilities and discontinued operations that we do not currently own, and we may currently own or may acquire timberlands and other properties in the future that are subject to environmental liabilities, such as remediation of soil, sediment and groundwater contamination and other existing or potential liabilities. In connection with the spin-off of our Performance Fibers business, and pursuant to the related Separation and Distribution Agreement between us and Rayonier Advanced Materials, Rayonier Advanced Materials has assumed any environmental liability of ours in connection with the manufacturing facilities and discontinued operations related to the Performance Fibers business and has agreed to indemnify and hold us harmless in connection with such environmental liabilities. However, in the event we seek indemnification from Rayonier Advanced Materials, we cannot provide any assurance that a court will enforce our indemnification right if challenged by Rayonier Advanced Materials or that Rayonier Advanced Materials will be able to fund any amounts for indemnification owed to us. In addition, the cost of investigation and remediation of contaminated timberlands and properties that we currently own or acquire in the future could increase operating costs and adversely affect financial results. We could also incur substantial costs, such as civil or criminal fines, sanctions and enforcement actions (including orders limiting our operations or requiring corrective measures, installation of pollution control
equipment or other remedial actions), clean-up and closure costs, and third-party claims for property damage and personal injury as a result of violations of, or liabilities under, environmental laws and regulations related to such timberlands or properties.
The industries in which we operate are highly competitive.
The markets in which we operate are highly competitive, and we compete with companies that have substantially greater financial resources than we do in each of these businesses. The competitive pressures relating to our Timber segments are primarily driven by quantity of product supply and quality of the timber offered by competitors in the domestic and export markets, each of which may impact pricing. With respect to our Real Estate segment, we compete with other owners of entitled and unentitled properties. Each property has unique attributes, but overall quantity of supply and price for residential, commercial, industrial and rural properties in the geographic areas in which we operate are the most significant competitive drivers. The markets in which our Trading segment operates are very competitive with numerous entities competing for export log supply at different ports across New Zealand.
Our strategy will be adversely affected if we are unable to make future acquisitions.
We have pursued, and intend to continue to pursue, acquisitions of timberland and real estate properties that meet our investment criteria and achieve our strategic goals of growing the size and average quality of our land base. The ability to grow through acquisitions or other investments depends upon our ability to identify, negotiate, complete and integrate suitable acquisitions or joint venture arrangements. In addition, the discount rate we use in our acquisition underwriting has to meet our internal hurdle rate while also being competitive with that of other timberland investors. In particular, our future success and growth depend upon our ability to make acquisitions that increase merchantable timber inventory and complement the existing age-class structure of our ownership. If we are unable to make acquisitions on acceptable terms or that do not support our strategic goals, our revenues and cash flows may stagnate or decline.
Our inability to access the capital markets could adversely affect our business strategy and competitive position.
Due to the REIT income distribution requirements, we rely significantly on external sources of capital to finance growth and acquisitions. Both our ability to obtain financing and the related cost of capital are affected by a number of factors, many of which are outside of our control, including a decline in general market conditions, decreased market liquidity, a downgrade to our public debt rating, increases in interest rates, an unfavorable market perception of our growth potential, a decrease in our current or estimated future earnings or a decrease in the market price of our common stock. If capital is not available when needed, or is available only on unfavorable terms relative to other timberland REITs or TIMOs, or not at all, we may be unable to complete acquisitions or otherwise take advantage of business opportunities or respond to competitive pressures. As of December 31, 2019, our credit ratings from S&P and Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) were BBB- and Baa3, respectively. Any combination of the factors described above, including our failure to maintain our investment grade credit rating, could prevent us from obtaining the capital we require on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all, which could adversely affect our business, liquidity and competitive position.
We are subject to risks associated with an increase in market interest rates.
One of the factors that may influence the price of our common shares is our annual dividend yield as compared to yields on other financial instruments. Thus, an increase in market interest rates could result in higher yields on other financial instruments and could adversely affect the relative attractiveness of an investment in the Company and, accordingly, the trading price of our common shares. An increase in market interest rates could cause increases in discount rates and, accordingly, a decline in property values and total returns for timberland assets. An increase in market interest rates would also negatively impact financing costs on our floating rate debt as well as any additional debt we may raise.
We are subject to risks associated with the discontinuation of LIBOR.
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority announced in 2017 that it intends to phase out the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) by the end of 2021. Changes in the method of calculating LIBOR, or the replacement of LIBOR with an alternative rate or benchmark, may adversely affect interest rates and could result in higher borrowing costs. In addition, if changes are made to the method of calculating LIBOR or LIBOR ceases to exist, we may need to amend certain contracts, including our credit facility and swap arrangements, and we cannot predict what alternative rate or benchmark would be negotiated. This may also result in an increase in our interest rate expense.
The impacts of climate-related initiatives, at the international, U.S. federal and state levels, remain uncertain at this time.
There continue to be numerous international, U.S. federal and state-level initiatives and proposals to address domestic and global climate issues. Within the U.S., most of these proposals would regulate and/or tax the production of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” to facilitate the reduction of carbon compound emissions into the atmosphere, and provide tax and other incentives to produce and use “cleaner” energy.
In late 2009, the EPA issued an “endangerment finding” under the Clean Air Act with respect to certain greenhouse gases, leading to the regulation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and having significant ramifications for Rayonier and the industry in general. In this regard, the EPA has published various regulations, affecting the operation of existing and new industrial facilities that emit carbon dioxide. As a result of the EPA’s decision to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, states will now have to consider them in permitting new or modified facilities.
Overall, it is reasonably likely that legislative and regulatory activity in this area will in some way affect Rayonier and the U.S. customers of our Southern Timber and Pacific Northwest Timber segments, but it is unclear at this time what the nature of the impact will be. We continue to monitor political and regulatory developments in this area, but their overall impact on Rayonier, from a cost, benefit and financial performance standpoint, remains uncertain at this time. In addition, the EPA has yet to finalize the treatment of biomass under greenhouse gas regulatory schemes, leaving Rayonier’s biomass customers in a position of uncertainty.
REIT AND TAX-RELATED RISKS
Loss of our REIT status would adversely affect our cash flow and stock price.
We intend to continue to operate in accordance with REIT requirements pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), and related U.S. Treasury regulations and administrative guidance. Qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex provisions of the Code, which are subject to change, perhaps retroactively, and which are not within our control. We cannot assure that we will remain qualified as a REIT or that new legislation, U.S. Treasury regulations, administrative interpretations or court decisions will not significantly affect our ability to remain qualified as a REIT or the U.S. federal income tax consequences of such qualification.
We continually monitor and test our compliance with all REIT requirements. In particular, we regularly test our compliance with the REIT “asset tests,” which require generally that, at the close of each calendar quarter: (1) at least 75% of the market value of our total assets must consist of REIT-qualifying interests in real property (such as timberlands), including leaseholds and options to acquire real property and leaseholds, as well as cash and cash items and certain other specified assets, (2) no more than 25% of the market value of our total assets may consist of other assets that are not qualifying assets for purposes of the 75% test in clause (1) above, and (3) no more than 20% (25% for calendar years prior to 2018) of the market value of our total assets may consist of the securities of one or more “taxable REIT subsidiaries.” As of December 31, 2019, Rayonier is in compliance with these asset tests.
If in any taxable year we fail to qualify as a REIT and are not entitled to relief under the Code, we will not be allowed a deduction for dividends paid to shareholders in computing our taxable income and we will be subject to U.S. federal income tax on our REIT taxable income. In addition, we will be disqualified from qualification as a REIT for the four taxable years following the year during which the qualification was lost, unless we are entitled to relief under certain provisions of the Code. As a result, our net income and the cash available for distribution to our shareholders could be reduced for up to five years or longer, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.
If we fail to remain qualified as a REIT, we may also need to borrow funds or liquidate some investments or assets to pay any resulting additional tax liability. Accordingly, cash available for distribution to our shareholders would be reduced.
Certain of our business activities are potentially subject to prohibited transactions tax.
As a REIT, we will be subject to a 100% tax on any net income from “prohibited transactions.” In general, prohibited transactions are sales or other dispositions of property to customers in the ordinary course of business. Sales of logs, and dealer sales of timberlands or other real estate, constitute prohibited transactions unless the sale satisfies certain safe harbor provisions in the Code.
We intend to avoid the 100% prohibited transactions tax by complying with the prohibited transaction safe harbor provisions and conducting activities that would otherwise be prohibited transactions through one or more taxable REIT subsidiaries. We may not, however, always be able to identify timberland properties that become part of our “dealer” real estate sales business. Therefore, if we sell timberlands which we incorrectly identify as property not held for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business, we may be subject to the 100% prohibited transactions tax.
Our cash dividends are not guaranteed and may fluctuate.
Generally, REITs are required to distribute 90% of their ordinary taxable income, but not their net capital gains income. Accordingly, we do not generally believe that we are required to distribute material amounts of cash since substantially all of our taxable income is generally treated as capital gains income. However, a REIT must pay corporate level tax on its undistributed taxable income and capital gains.
Our Board of Directors, in its sole discretion, determines the amount of quarterly dividends to be paid to our shareholders based on consideration of a number of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, our results of operations, cash flow and capital requirements, economic conditions, tax considerations, borrowing capacity and other factors, including debt covenant restrictions that may impose limitations on cash payments, future acquisitions and divestitures, harvest levels, changes in the price and demand for our products and general market demand for timberlands, including those timberland properties that have higher and better uses. Consequently, our dividend levels may fluctuate.
Lack of shareholder ownership and transfer restrictions in our articles of incorporation may affect our ability to qualify as a REIT.
In order to qualify as a REIT, an entity cannot have five or fewer individuals who own, directly or indirectly after applying attribution of ownership rules, 50% or more of the value of its outstanding shares during the last six months in each calendar year. Although it is not required by law or the REIT provisions of the Code, almost all REITs have adopted ownership and transfer restrictions in their articles of incorporation or organizational documents which seek to assure compliance with that rule. While we are not in violation of the ownership rules, we do not have, nor do we have any current plans to adopt, share ownership and transfer restrictions. As such, the possibility exists that five or fewer individuals could acquire 50% or more of the value of our outstanding shares, which could result in our disqualification as a REIT.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
Item 2. PROPERTIES
The following table provides a breakdown of our timberland holdings as of September 30, 2019 and December 31, 2019:
(acres in 000s)
As of September 30, 2019
As of December 31, 2019
New Zealand (a)