US-based forestry and forest products specialist Rayonier reports profits down 5.1% in the fourth quarter, but says the business is performing strongly, with sales up 23% for the period.

The company said that the fourth quarter earnings of US$56.2m compared poorly with the 2010 figure because the latter included a “one time boost” from a “biofuel producer credit”.

Chief executive Paul Boynton said that excluding this, the company’s earnings for the period in 2011 were 48 cents per share compared to just 28% a year ago. Operating margins were up about 20% at 20.9%.

Sales for the quarter were $388.4m.

Mr Boynton predicted a strong performance from Rayonier in the year ahead, particularly from its Performance Fibers arm, which supplies cellulose materials for use in products from LCD screens, to plastics and pharmaceuticals.