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Plum Creek Timber Profit Tops Estimate - Update

Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. (PCL) Monday reported a better-than-expected increase in fourth-quarter profit, as the company gained from continued strong demand for well-managed timberlands. Moving forward, Plum Creek said prospects appear bright and provided a broad earnings-guidance range for the full year 2013.

Following the news, shares of the company touched a new high for the year, gaining about three percent in after-hours trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

"During the year, we continued to position ourselves to benefit from the emerging recovery in residential construction...", said CEO Rick Holley.

"We're excited about the prospects for continued recovery and growth in 2013 and expect that the opportunities beyond are even more compelling," added Holley.

The Seattle, Washington-based lumber products company reported fourth-quarter net income of $79 million or $0.49 per share, compared with $61 million or $0.38 per share last year.

On average, 12 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.29 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Revenues for the quarter were $354 million, compared with $315 million a year ago. Analysts on consensus estimated revenues of $300.73 million for the quarter.

All of the company's segments - Timber, Real Estate, and Manufacturing - witnessed growth.

Within timber operations, the company said operating profit at Northern Resources segment slid by $2 million compared with last year. The segment's harvest volumes were lower compared with last year.

The Southern Resources segment reported a $5 million increase in operating profit compared with last year. Average pulpwood prices increased 16 percent, and the company increased its pulpwood harvest nearly 10 percent.

Looking ahead, the company expects first-quarter earnings of $0.28 to $0.33 per share. Analysts currently expect earnings of $0.30 per share for the quarter.

For the full year 2013, the company expects income of $1.25 to $1.50 per share, while analysts currently estimate $1.40 per share.

The company plans to harvest between 17.5 and 18.0 million tons of timber for the year.

Plum Creek closed Monday at $47.31 on a volume of about 1 million shares on the NYSE. In after hours, the stock gained $1.44 or 3.04%. In the past year, the stock has traded in a range of $35.43 - $48.26.

by RTT Staff Writer

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