Jerry Barag, president and CEO of Catchmark Timber Trust (NYSE: CTT), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview during REITWeek 2014: NAREIT’s Investor Forum, held in New York.
Barag was asked about his company’s performance in the first quarter of 2014. Barag noted that following the firm’s initial public offering (IPO), it implemented a new management team and strategy.
“That’s going along very well,” he said. “We’ve increased production volume significantly over the last year and have brought on enough contractor and manufacturing capacity to handle that. At the current rate, we’re running slightly ahead of schedule for the year. We have also encountered a very strong pricing environment at the same time. As a result, we have been able to increase guidance once this year as well as announce a dividend increase. We expect that those conditions will persist for the balance of the year. We have some operating capacity to finalize before the end of the year and one large land sale, which has already been committed for December.”
Barag also discussed pricing and competition for acquisitions.
“We’ve been very pleased since the beginning of this year,” he said. “There has been an ample supply of property that has come on to the market or that has been available to transact. We have been working our way through that and have been successful on garnering and closing several transactions. Quite frankly, our pipeline continues to expand. It looks like, after a six-year hiatus in the timberland markets, 2014 is shaping up to be a more normalized year in terms of transaction volume. We expect to participate fully in that.”
Barag also offered his opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of his company’s narrow focus.
“We’re a pure play company, and we’ve made it our mission to be very transparent and easily understood by the marketplace,” he said. “As a result of that, at least right now, we’re exclusively focused in the U.S. South. We have made an effort not to enter into any other ancillary activities that many of the other participants in the timberland REITworld participate in. That has been a thoughtful decision from a volatility standpoint.”