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Rayonier Inc. (NYSE:RYN)

Credit Suisse Global Paper & Packaging Conference Call

February 22, 2012 12:00 pm ET

Executives

Carl Kraus - SVP, Finance & Head, IR

Analysts

Unidentified Analyst

Alright, well thanks again. So we are moving right along and it’s a real pleasure to have with us today Rayonier, the leading global producer of specialty dissolving pulp and they also have 2.7 million acres of land, timberland in their control and with us today is Senior Vice President and Head of Investor relations, Carl Kraus and with that let me turn it over to Carl. Thank you.

Carl Kraus

Thanks Al and thank you for coming folks. Turning to page four and for anybody that did not get a presentation we still have some up here to my left, but Rayonier is a global forests products company with a market cap of $5.4 billion. We have three core businesses, forest resources, real estate and performance fibers and we will explain that in more detail in a few minutes.

Our annual revenues are about $1.5 billion and we have sales in 40 different countries comprising about 45% of revenue. And our current annualized dividend of a $1.60 per share is yielding about 3.6%. Our dividend is taxed at capital gains rates and dividend growth is a key part of our growth strategy.

We are structured as a highly efficient real estate investment trust with strong credit ratings and in fact Moody’s upgraded us yesterday to BAA1 and we have a BBB+ rating from Standard and Poor’s.

Turning now to page five and taking a look at our structure, as I mentioned we are a REIT and on the left side you can see that our timberland assets are housed in the REIT, but we also have a very robust taxable REIT subsidiary that houses our performance fibers business and some of our real estate activities. And we are also able because of the strong credit metrics to house the majority of our debt within our taxable REIT subsidiary.

Turning now to page six and looking at our cash flows from our three core businesses, you can see good growth over the cycle here with almost a doubling of EBITDA from our performance fibers business into 2006. If you take a look at the bottom stack which is forest resources that back around 2006 and 2007, we were generating about a $150 million of EBITDA in that business with the recession, with harvest deferrals that segment declined to about $77 million by 2009 and we’ve grown back to about $110 million in 2011, but certainly see the potential to equal or surpass historical cash contribution levels.

Turning now to page seven and looking at the cash flow and the coverage of our dividend, you can see that in 2011, our payout ratio was 65%. You can also on the bottom as we’ve noted here we’ve had seven dividend increases over the last nine years including the 11% increase that was effective in September of 2011.

Turning now to page 8 and looking at our credit metrics, we’ve a very strong balance sheet and conservative leverage. On a GAAP basis, our debt-to-total cap is 39%. At year end, we had debt to adjusted EBITDA of 1.7 times and the interest coverage is very strong at 12 times.

Turning now to our strategy on page 9, first with respect to our Forest Resources Group. Here our focus is to optimize and grow our timberland portfolio overtime. We go through a continuous evaluation process for every acre of land under management and at times we will identify some of the acreage as non-strategic and then we will divest that land.

From an operational point of view, we focus on best practices through good silvicultural use to enhance the growth and yield over time. Moving to real estate, here our focus is to monetize our higher and better used properties through conservation, recreation and industrial sales and also with respect to our coastal corridor properties in the southeast to take select properties through a land use change to enhance the future value of these properties.

And then lastly with respect to performance fibers, our focus here is to continue to maintain our global leadership in the cellulose-specialty products. And here this is through differentiation with the purity, consistency and technical support for these products. We also have a significant capital project underway in the performance fibers mill in Jesup and we will give you more details on that in a few minutes.

Now diving into the segments, first timberlands on page 11. This has been a unique asset class that has shown good appreciation above the inflation rate overtime. The asset class also has tremendous flexibility in terms of being able to differ harvesting if the markets turn soft and also you have a renewable resource. We had mentioned the restructure which is highly tax efficient for us and in 2011, this segment contributed $110 million worth of EBITDA.

Taking a look at the map, we own, lease or manage over 2.7 million acres globally with most of that in the US. In our Atlantic region, we’ve over 1.1 million acres, over 700,000 acres in the Gulf States and nearly 400,000 acres in Washington State. And then we’re the managing general partner and have a 26% equity interest in a venture in New Zealand which owns over 320,000 acres.

On page 13, the major point I want to make here as we emphasize from a strategic point of view, is that we will be growing our timberland portfolio overtime. As you can see in 2011, we added approximately 300,000 acres to our ownership.

On page 14, reviewing market outlook, the current and near-term drivers, we’re expecting by mid-year to see a return of the strength of demand for logs to China. Also, we’re seeing continued steady demand for pulpwood in our regions and in the southeast, we continue to defer the harvesting of the more mature saw logs.

Mid-to-long term, we see good EBITDA growth in this segment from increased volume overtime, from Asian demand, increased harvest potential in the northwest and through advanced silvicultural practices. Our mix will improve particularly in the southeast as the housing market recovers and then as we’ll see price recovery overtime from housing from the British Pine Beetle effect and also the export demand.

And as I mentioned, with adding over 300,000 acres to our portfolio last year, by 2015 or 2016 we see an additional 1.5 million tons of harvest volume per annum thereafter. Moving now to real estate on page 16. First our real estate activities are focused exclusively on adding value to our timberland base. Looking at the pie chart as an illustration, we look at our portfolio and actively manage it by continuously evaluating all of our acreage.

At any one point of time the majority of our acreage will be deemed strategic for active timberland management. As I mentioned previously, we will go through and identify non-strategic acreage for divestiture and then in two areas where we have higher and better use potential, in rural America we have a good track record of being able to sell 15,000 to 25000 acres of land per year at a good premium to underlying timberland values, either for conservation use or rural recreation and other uses like that.

And then in the development area and I will show you a development corridor where we have land in the path of growth, most of land is owned agricultural, but to permit dense real estate use, you have to go through a land use change and I will show you that the results of that on this page 17. We are fortunate to have ownership of approximately 200,000 acres of land along the Interstate 95 Coastal corridor stretching from Savanna down through Jacksonville and down through Daytona.

So we have identified areas in the Bryan County area, Nassau County and Flagler County stretching from Georgia to Florida and we have been successful in changing the land use for 39,000 acres as identified here and because of the economy and the lack of demand for development property, we are continuing to keep this land in active timber management and so we are generating good cash flow from this land, while we are being patient and waiting for real estate demand to improve.

Looking at an outlook for the real estate segment, we see continued good demand for rural properties and expect 2012 sales levels to be above 2011. With respect to non-strategic properties we are really at the end of that program with respect to our legacy portfolio and expect to sell fewer acres in 2012 and at significantly lower prices per acre because of the mix.

With respect to entitlement properties, most of that effort is behind us but we will continue to position these properties to be monetized as the markets improve.

Now moving to performance fibers on page 20, first we are the global leader in cellulose specialties and will explain what that means in a moment. We have two mills, the larger in Jessup, Georgia which is Southeast Georgia with annual production capacity of 590,000 tons and then we have a mill in Fernandina Beach with capacity of 155,000. Fernandina is a part of the Metro Jacksonville market.

If you look at the pie chart on the right, 69% of our volume in 2011 was in the specialty products and 31% in absorbent materials or fluff pulp. We have a significant capital project underway at our Jessup mill where we are converting our fluff capacity to cellulose specialties and I will explain that in more detail in a minute.

In 2011 the performance fiber segment generated $354 million worth of EBITDA. On page 21, that we just wanted to show the commodity grades and we’re not in that at all. So we don’t make any of the grades depicted here.

On page 22 now looking at the pyramid on the left, we’re defining the pulp market as being 61 million tons globally, about 51 of that are in the commodity grades. As I mentioned we are not a player there at all. And as you move up to specialization scale, the next grade is fluff pulp, which is about a 5 million ton market. We’re currently a small player there and we’ll exit that market by mid-2013 as our expansion project is competed.

Then the top two grades or what are call dissolving pulps with a 3.4 million ton commodity viscose market and those pulps are used primarily to make rayon fabric. Rayonier is not a player in that space today.

So our focus is really at the very top in the specialty cellulose, which is a 1.4 million ton market, as depicted with the pie chart on the right and you can see the acetate, ethers and other grades within that segment.

Turning to page 23, in the upper portion of this chart is a further break down of our cellulose specialty production. So as I mentioned 69% of our volume within the specialty grades and in 2011 79% of that went into acetate. And then you can see the other shares there.

On the lower portion here are some of the end products that the specialty grades go into. We sell to primarily to specialty chemical companies under long-term contracts. They take our pulp, mix it with chemicals, dissolve it and make certain end products. For example acetate tow that is used to make filters for cigarettes or you see in flat screen TV or LCD production, there the acetate is used as a polarizing agent in the screen. In the high strength viscose areas particularly Rayonier focuses in the food and pharma areas and it is used as a thickener for food products or a separator of active ingredients or coating in the pharmaceutical segment.

On page 24 taking a global view of the specialties market, you can see acetate is approximately a 700,000 ton market with growth of about 1.5% to 2% per year. Rayonier is by far the market leader in this space. We have approximately 55% to 60% market share and the next competitor has no more than 15%.

In the ether segment, it’s a 570,000 ton market with growth of about 5% to 7% and we focus primarily on the food and pharmaceutical segment there and we are in the top three in that segment.

And then moving to the high strength viscose segment, there are only two producers and we are second by market size there and you can see that the product is used for sausage casings, high performance tires and also in engine filtration.

On 25, I know this is a complicated chart but a couple of points here to make that in terms of the niche that Rayonier enjoys.

First we can make our pulps from both hardwoods or softwoods and as I mentioned we have two mills, our Jessup mill uses the craft process. And there, as you can see we can make pulp from either hardwood or softwood.

Our Fernandina mill uses the [saw pipe] process and uses softwood. So, for all of our specialty customers, every ton of product is customized to their specifications. So, with the two mills, the two processes, hardwood, softwood, allow us tremendous flexibility to meet our customers exacting demands.

Moving now to the pricing chart here, you can see the upper chart, the blue line, is the Cellulose Specialties and we’ve enjoyed really good strong price increases since 2005.

The Absorbent Materials chart, you know, that here you can see that it’s more cyclical. During the global recession, starting in ’08 and through ’09, you can see price declines there. Then an increase and then recently again, you see prices softening. With respect to the Cellulose Specialties for 2012, we’ve announced price increases under our contracts of 12% to 13% on average.

Moving to the Cellulose Specialty project overview on page 27, this is a $300 million project, in Jessup, Georgia, converting 260,000 tons of fluff pulp to 190,000 tons of specialty. This was a customer-driven project in the sense that the global markets were so tight, for the last X years, we’ve been sold out of all of our cellulose specialty capacity.

So, in response to our customers growth demands, we have been studying for sometime, the best way to meet these growing demand and decided to convert our mill in Jessup from fluff to specialties. It is a financially attractive project with projected returns of 17% to 20%.

Turning to page 28 and addressing some of the risk. This is a highly complex project but to mitigate risk essentially what we are doing is duplicating our B Mill on Jessup, which has proven technology and customer recognized quality. So in every ton of product that is sold in the specialty areas, every producer has to go through a lengthy qualification period.

So using proven technology and processes and using the same wood fibers, this greatly mitigates risk and as I mentioned in this project is slated to come on stream mid-2013. We will continue to make fluff until that time and it is important to note that currently we have 85% of this new volume committed.

Looking at the market outlook, we see continued strong demand for our cellular specialty products. As I mentioned we have a 12% to 13% average increase for the specialty grades in 2012. We have witnessed and continue to see softening in the absorbent material markets. For 2012 substantially all of our specialties volumes is under contract so we have great visibility for both price and volume at this point. Our cellulose specialty expansion project is on time and on budget for mid-2013 completion.

In conclusion, we have a strategic focus on maximizing value by driving future cash flows and an emphasis on operating excellence. We have a diverse portfolio of businesses that continue to generate strong cash flow. We have significant operating flexibility, global reach in our sales. We have an attractive and growing dividend and a strong balance sheet with strong investment grade rating and a tax efficient REIT structure.

You can see on page 32 there, again a repeat of our total EBITDA growth over since 2006 and the strong dividend coverage on the right hand chart.

On page 33, you can see the history of our dividend increases since 2006 and then the total shareholder return chart that since the end of 2006 there has been a 15% compounded return and we've outperformed the indices noted here.

So with that, that ends the formal part, so we will open it up for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Unidentified Analyst

Terrific and if anyone in the audience has questions please raise your hand.

Unidentified Analyst

You didn't mention the, maybe you did, your purchase of the 250,000 acres of timberland I think, you did that, was it in December that you did or was it in the fourth quarter?

Carl Kraus

Yeah, fourth quarter.

Unidentified Analyst

That’s $330 million?

Carl Kraus

Yes.

Unidentified Analyst

Could you just review that again, because that's quite a large transaction, in fact I think its probably the largest I have seen in quite a while and you know just in terms of the way you bought and it looks like that the stocking level, because it looks like, well it depends when you bought it, but why don't you just tell us about that?

Carl Kraus

Sure. Yeah, we had a 250,000 acre acquisition for $330 million. This is all in the Gulf States region, so its part of the 700,000 acres that we have in the Gulf States in the map that we reviewed. This is primarily Southern pine plantations. They tended to be a little younger than average. This is a private negotiation with an institutional seller, so we had the upper leg in negotiating an excellent transaction.

So it was a great fit with our Southeastern ownership and it gave us -- we feel very good about the end markets, the diversification of end markets in there and the quality of the timberland. So we were -- as we mentioned, the primary call for our strategic capital is to grow our timberland base overtime.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah, so it looks like it’s a little bit on a price per acre basis; a little bit below the transaction and you think that’s because (inaudible)

Carl Kraus

Yeah, that would reflect, yes, the age class that would have been you know a little bit younger on average than some of the other transactions and for institutional quality timberland in the Southeast, the primary differential would be the stocking level in your ownership there.

Unidentified Analyst

Turning to the pulp business, do you, I mean the fact that you are converting to some fluff pulp, is that also a reflection that you might see in the fluff pulp market; is maybe over the medium term maybe has a little bit too much capacity in the fluff pulp market or because there are some conversions with the fluff pulp?

Carl Kraus

Yeah, there are conversions with the fluff pulp. No, our decision, it was our offensive strategy to grow where our strength is and our niche in the cellulose specialty; it is not a commentary on the fluff business. It looks like the fluff demand will continue to grow about 4% to 6% per year; Rayonier, was a relatively small player without strategic advantage in that space. And as we evaluated where we could grow, it clearly came out in the cellulose specialty category and the best use of our asset base is to convert our existing mill in Jesup. So it’s all about offensively to grow in the specialties area and not a negative comment at all on absorbent materials.

Unidentified Analyst

Let me ask you one last question, I think you converted to a REIT at the beginning of 2004?

Carl Kraus

Correct.

Unidentified Analyst

And when you sell land, you will paid statutory corporate rate, is that correct?

Carl Kraus

Well, there is, for 10 years, after reconversion, which would end at the end of 2013, we are subject to what is called built-in gain tax. So if we sell timberlands which were owned on the date of the reconversion and there at that point you need to have to be able to verify whether or not there was built-in gain at the date of that transaction, so you’ll look at your tax basis compared to the fair value at 01/01/2004. And so if you sell the properties within that 10 year window, you would be subject to regular corporate taxation for that amount of gain, any post-REIT appreciation, you would not be subject to tax as long as you dividend that portion of the gain.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. So after 2013, are you saying that you would be able to sell land that you owned prior to 01/01/04, but without build-in gain tax?

Carl Kraus

Without built-in gain tax, correct. Now there are also other ways that for example, [Doric] since we converted to a REIT, we have used like kind of exchanges, where if you sell existing timberland and buy substitute property within the defined period, then for tax purposes, you have no gain. So the substitute property takes on the holding period and the basis of the legacy property.

Unidentified Analyst

Does that change your strategy at all once you get the 10 year period? Does that give you more flexibility to maybe buy your assets or….?

Carl Kraus

Well, I would say fundamentally, the answer is no. But it certainly makes life less complicated. So at this time, we try to do our best to minimize, I mean since REIT formation, we try our hardest to minimize any built-in gain tax and in fact in 2011, there was a holiday. The IRS granted a one-year holiday from built-in gain tax. So we did some creative things in 2011 to take advantage of that. And then, clearly we have a watchful eye during 2012 and 2013 to minimize built-in gain taxes as we were this close to the expiration date. But I wouldn’t say that we’ve created any fundamental shift in the way that we run our businesses.

Unidentified Analyst

Are there any other conversions happening (inaudible)?

Carl Kraus

Well, Buckeye has announced a 42,000 ton conversion at their Foley, Florida mill and Tembec has announced a possible expansion into specialties I believe, and maybe the 2013, 2014 for about 30,000 tons. They are the only announcements that we are aware of.

Unidentified Analyst

[Question Inaudible]

Carl Kraus

Now these would be expansions of where I believe in Buckeye’s case they are converting from fluff, Al you may know better than me but, excuse me, they are converting from fluff to specialties.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah, that’s right.

Carl Kraus

And Tembec, again it’s existing capacities, so they are not Greenfields, Greenfield development.

Unidentified Analyst

(Question Inaudible)

Carl Kraus

Well, the question is with respect to our Florida properties, when would be the right time to develop those. First, we are not a developer, so Rayonier will not be using any significant strategic capital to develop these properties, so we have no intention of putting an infrastructure or roads and utilities.

So the question is when will there be demand for people who are willing to buy these properties at a reasonable price? We still see that as being several years out and probably the first to return would be we have several properties that with significant industrial use are permitted and it’s likely that given the growth in the Southeast that within a couple of years we could see some activity there.

But for residential use which is the primary designation across the 39,000 acres of entitled property that’s more three to five years out and I am afraid depending upon when the housing markets finally get some legs and when you get more of a million housing starts per year etcetera, so we have to be patient there.

Unidentified Analyst

Carl I guess along the line of the housing starts, do you have a view at what level we need to see before we see meaningful rise in timber prices?

Unidentified Company Representative

We believe that the demand needs to be at the million plus level to have sustainable price increases and we are able to encourage us to bring more volume back to the market, but we still think we are a few years away from getting to that level. So our view is we will see slow gradual improvement over the next couple of years and but probably 2014 or beyond before you get to a million starts

UA

And along those lines you know there's certainly some optimism that we've seen a bottom in the housing market and things are picking up a little bit you know what are you seeing, what's your perspective on that?

Unidentified Company Representative

Well, again we do believe that the fundamentals are improving slowly, you know we will continue to watch, we are always in a state of readiness to respond and to be opportunistic, to bring more volume to market if the demand is there and of course in the timber segment, it’s micro market driven. So we pay keen attention to what's going on in each of our sub markets and are able to respond when the demand is there.

So for example in Washington state where it’s highly regulated, we put in the infrastructure of roads well in advance, so we have been able to take advantage of the strong export market over the last year or so. So 30% of our volume in Washington state is now going into the export market, but you have to have the infrastructure in place to be able to respond to that and of course you have to have properties that are strategically located near the five ports that we have there.

Unidentified Analyst

Switching gears to the dissolving pulp you know there's been and you've seen double digit price increases now two years in a row, just pretty great to see but you mentioned and we also talked about the capacity addition. How do you think about margins going forward from here?

Unidentified Company Representative

Well, we talked about that a bit at our Investor Day back in September and we still have the slide presentation on our website for anyone that would like to look at it. So we did give some indications of the growth in each of our business units as we look through the planning cycle and get out to 2015 or 2016. So we do see continued growth in the performance fibers segment.

We were reluctant to get into any quantification of what price increases would be beyond 2012. But we do see a market that will be balanced over that time horizon. So as we mentioned 85% of our new capacity, our new volume is committed and a significant percentage of Buckeye is already committed. So with that level of free commitment and with the projected growth, we believe that it will continue to be a very good strong market for you know within this planning horizon that we define.

Unidentified Analyst

What limitations you see potentially on given the fact that you have timber restructuring, how does that potentially impact your flexibility?

Unidentified Company Representative

There are two primary rules that we need to comply with as a REIT. The first is the asset test, which is the REIT can own now no more than 25% of its gross assets on a fair value basis and the net investment in its taxable REIT subsidiary. So we have a very robust process and the Board reviews and affirms the valuations there. And having the debt reside at the taxable REIT subsidiary is very helpful. So we continue to view that, we have got cushion and there is also some technicalities in that. Our taxable REIT subsidiary is self-sufficient in terms of generating its own cash flows and under the regulations, if you do not have a triggering event, which one of those would be a contribution from the parent down, the growth in value of that business through its self-sustaining means, it does not go against the asset test. So the fact that its self-sufficient, we have cushion and we continue to plan it. So we are not anticipating any issues with respect to the asset test.

The other primary test is the income test, which is where the REIT can have no more than 25% of its gross income as defined for tax purposes from the taxable REIT subsidiary. The only item of consequence there is the dividend that we control and declare from the TRS to the REIT. So once we have visibility in any given year as to what the taxable income at REIT level is, we then back into what the permissible dividend would be from the TRS.

Unidentified Analyst

[Question inaudible]

Carl Kraus

Correct.

Unidentified Analyst

[Question inaudible]

Carl Kraus

Well, certainly, it’s something that we have to continue to monitor but back to the point that I was just making that you know, from the last point in which the REIT had a capital contribution or what is called the triggering event. From that day forward, if the business doubled, it’s not counted against. You know, lets say, the EBITDA doubled and using the same multiple, the value of the business doubles. But that, you know, lets say self generated growth does not count against the asset class.

Unidentified Analyst

[Question inaudible]

Carl Kraus

But again it’s very technical as to how you calculate, you know, the value of the taxable REIT subsidiary. It’s fair value at the REIT but there is the triggering event concept at the taxable REIT subsidiary. But in both cases, where we, you know, we look at it both ways. And we’re within the 25% on the asset side.

Unidentified Analyst

Yes, on the timber side, Carl, you know, how are you feeling about what's out there in terms of valuations? You know, do you see potential to do, you know, more asset purchases on the timberland side? How much availability do you see right now there has been a lot of transactions?

Carl Kraus

You are right there are no significant acreage on the market we continue to be proactive I do not think that we will spend the same magnitude of dollars in 2012 that we did in 2011. We just don’t see that deal flow out there right now but we continue to be proactive but we are very disciplined also. But over the next one three or five years we would expect to continue to grow our portfolio. It is little hard to predict year-by-year in terms of what we can find that meets our strategic and financial criteria.

Unidentified Analyst

And then as follow on in terms of the impact that China’s demand in Washington area; what do you see in that? I know China has slowed down a little bit what is in the fourth quarter. It seems like it is picking up but what is your latest thoughts on China?

Carl Kraus

Right. We think our signals that we are getting from New Zealand where we have the joint venture and our Washington state presence is that we are expecting improvement by mid-year. Overall we stated on our call that we think that our prices in Washington State will be comparable this year to last year but it will be more second half weighted this year compared to 2011 which was the opposite; the first half of 2011 was stronger.

Over the longer term saying three to five years out, it is very compelling continued growth numbers. When you take a look at the growth of China and the wood deficit that they have, we see good continued demand from Northwest US and New Zealand.

Unidentified Analyst

And as you look out this year, where do you think are the biggest risk factors and the factors in terms of opportunity for the upside as you’re looking at?

Carl Kraus

I think in the timber segment clearly, well the China demand come back as we project by mid-year that I think in performance fibers we have excellent visibility in both price and volume on the specialties end of it. So there what happens with fluff pricing, some believe that they are starting to see bottom in the prices and will that come back in the second half of the year.

So that has some impact on us, but overall in performance fibers that business is driven primarily by what's happening in the cellulose specialty space and we have not projected that we’ve had very low levels of non-strategic timberland sales projected in the real estate segment and virtually no development corridor properties. So we don't really see much you know as any significant downside in the real estate business there too.

Unidentified Analyst

Any other questions in everything audience?

Unidentified Analyst

I guess on the fiber side, I think long-term you talked about the 3% kind of growth, you see the market growing at, which sets of sub-segments of that is are you guys particularly excited about in terms of the growth outlook and your position within those sub-segments?

Carl Kraus

Well, we are the global leader in the acetate. We see more volume, active volume in acetate after the completion of our expansion project, but we would like to see the concentration be reduced a bit in from acetate and more concentration in ethers and other segments there.

So we’re making good progress there you know with new customers and existing customer particularly in the food and farmer area. And there is higher growth within the ethers segment too; overall acetates growing maybe 1.5% to 2% we’re seeing the ether segment growing 5% to 7%. So you know that’s definitely a target for us to have a larger presence in the ethers category.

Unidentified Analyst

Any other questions for Rayonier? Okay. We’re going to stop there and appreciate your time today Carl. Thank you everybody.

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