Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Norbord, Inc. (NYSE:OSB)
Q3 2019 Earnings Call
Oct 31, 2019, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, everyone, and welcome to Norbord Inc.'s Third Quarter Earnings Conference Call. As a reminder, today's call is being recorded and webcast on Norbord's website at www.norbord.com.

Norbord's discussion today may include certain projections and forward-looking statements regarding Norbord's business, future actions and expected results. These statements are subject to known and unknown risks and future results may differ materially. For future information on known risks, please see the caution regarding forward-looking information statement on Norbord's January 31st, 2019 annual information form and the cautionary statement contained in the forward-looking statements section of Norbord's Management Discussion & Analysis dated October 30th, 2019.

And now, I will turn the call over to Peter Wijnbergen President and Chief Executive Officer. Please go ahead, sir.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, thank you, Ryan, and good morning everyone. Welcome to our Q3, 2019 Conference Call. I'm joined today by Robin Lampard, our CFO; Heather Colpitts, our Director of Corporate Affairs; and Robert Winslow, a recent addition to the team and our Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Development.

This morning, I will briefly summarize a few points about our Q3 results and our outlook before we take your questions. Favorable US housing market fundamentals continue to be slow to translate into stronger OSB demand. Our mills run well again in Q3. However, our financial results were disappointing as effects of the US housing market softness that began late last year continue to weigh on OSB markets in the quarter.

Benchmark prices were mixed in the third quarter. North Central and Western Canadian average regional prices were higher quarter-over-quarter, but still materially below year ago levels, while Southeast prices weakened to multi-year lows.

For the fourth consecutive quarter, we took extensive downtime across our North American mills; 70 mill days in Q3 to ensure we only produce what we could sell. However, despite this significant downtime, we were able to lower our North American unit cost 4% quarter-over-quarter by operating more efficiently.

As you know, we idled our 100 Mile House mill in British Columbia in August. And earlier this month, we announced that we will idle Line 1 at our Cordele, Georgia mill starting mid-November. Together, this indefinitely curtail 12% of our available North American capacity. These were difficult but necessary decisions that reflect the economic realities facing our business.

We have experienced hardworking teams in both mills and these decisions were in no way a reflection of the quality and capability of our employees. I'd like to thank our mill employees for all their efforts and commitment. We will continue to serve our customers, without disruption, from our other operating OSB mills in North America, including our two Alberta mills and our second line of Cordele.

Looking forward, we have seen improvement in the affordability concerns and persistent record-breaking wet weather that led to poor building conditions in many North American regions over the past year. The buildup of US unsold new home inventory now appears to have been absorbed and new home sales increased through the third quarter. This trend has begun to translate into increased new home construction activity with the September seasonally adjusted annual rate pace of US single family starts up 4% year-over-year to 918,000.

Homebuilder sentiment remains positive with the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index at its highest level of the year. So, we are now entering the slower winter construction season. The expectation is that these positive indicators will carry over into 2020.

In Europe, our segment adjusted EBITDA was down from its trend of the past six quarters for two main reasons. First, we took annual maintenance shuts in the quarter, as we typically do to coincide with the slower summer vacation season and incurred the lost volume and added costs associated with the downtime.

Second, as we highlighted last quarter, panel prices have been rolling over led by Germany, Europe's largest OSB consuming market, as their export oriented economy is feeling the effects of the global trade war. European panel prices typically move within a much narrower band than this year in North America and we have benefited from well above average prices in Europe in the last couple of years.

Prices are now reverting toward the historical average. We have seen in the past that lower prices have helped stimulate the pace of OSB substitution for imported plywood and we expect this will continue to drive consumption growth in Europe, as always been a more direct link between panel prices and raw material costs in Europe, albeit with a few quarter's lag and we are working hard to bring down costs across our mills.

Further, we used the annual shut this quarter to address some typical start-up issues that have been holding back our ramp up in Inverness. We are still in the early innings of that ramp up and have about a full-year pipeline of growth ahead of us.

Now, turning to capital allocation, we remain committed to a balanced approach, consistent with our long-standing track record. In recognition of the impact of weaker than expected North American OSB markets on our financial results over these past three quarters, we will now be pulling back capital expenditures to $100 million next year. We will focus this lower capex budget in areas of high priority, including maintaining our mills and supporting our industrial sales growth strategy, as well as our ongoing second phase investment to expand capacity in Inverness.

As you have -- also have seen, the Board reduced the dividend level from $0.40 to $0.20 per share and we also renewed our normal course issuer bid for early November and we will consider opportunities to enhance shareholder value with the purchase of our common share.

Although it was a disappointing quarter from a financial perspective, our balance sheet and liquidity remain solid. Our mills are running well, and we remain confident in our market position. We have significant upside potential in an improved housing market and are optimistic that our results will improve accordingly.

And with that, we'll jump right into questions today. So I'll turn things over to the operator who will operate -- open your lines.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] We'll take our first question, And that is from John Babcock with Bank of America. Please go ahead.

John Babcock -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Good morning. I was -- so first I was wondering if you can talk about how you're thinking around curtailing the Cordele Georgia mill. I mean, at least based on some of the data that we have, it seems like this would be one of the lower cost mills in your system, and so I guess if you could verify that. And then also, could you provide any color on kind of the potential curtailment costs associated with it or at least some guidance around that?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, John. Well, yes, it is definitely one of our lower cost mills. But the Southeast region is one of the areas that have seen the most or the weakest price over the last number of quarters or maybe the last year. It is a net export market. You know there more production in the region than consumption and we felt that ultimately there was insufficient demand, at least in the foreseeable future to support the production in that mill. Thank you.

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

And John, in terms of curtailment cost, as you know it's a 2 line mill and we have curtailed one of the lines. So the second line continues to operate. And per the announcement, there is about a 45% reduction in the workforce in that mill as a result of this curtailment. So, maybe we'll be able to pull out significant amount of cost from what was a two line mill going forward.

John Babcock -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay. And then how much do you typically spend annually on a Cordele mill to keep it sufficiently maintained to have optionality to restart at some point?

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Couple of million bucks a year is what it goes down to, so pretty modest.

John Babcock -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay. And as far as kind of the log pile there. I mean are you, is going to take some time to work down inventories or are they pretty thin at this point?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, as you know, we have two lines there, right, so Line 2 continues to operate. So there is no concern over the log pile.

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

[Speech Overlap] And John, sorry there isn't the -- seasonality to logging in the South as there was up in BC. So the inventory is a fairly steady through the year.

John Babcock -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay. And then kind of last question on this topic, I guess what do you know about the other OSB mill shutting in South Carolina? Does this line sound like it's going to be down for a while? Any information or anything you've kind of heard out there would be helpful.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

No. Sorry, I don't have any more information than probably you do from the newspaper article we read in the local newspaper couple of weeks ago.

John Babcock -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay. And then the last question before I turn it over. Just on Europe, I was wondering if you could kind of talk about market conditions and how they kind of trending through the quarter and particularly how they are now relative to how they ended the quarter.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I mean the interesting thing in Europe is, as I pointed out, prices are in a narrower brand than in North America typically. They are adjusting or rolling over toward the long-term average. And volume isn't so much impacted, because we still have lots of room for substitution. So we are not challenged necessarily to sell our volume. But we are adjusting to this lower pricing environment, as I said, more toward the long-term average.

John Babcock -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Alright, thanks, John.

Operator

Thank you. We will take our next question, and that is from Sean Steuart with TD Securities. Please go ahead.

Sean Steuart -- TD Securities -- Analyst

Thanks. Good morning, everyone. I want to follow on the last question with respect to, I guess, broader North American supply trends. So between the two mills in BC and your move in Georgia and GP, it looks like 9% to 10% of the market is coming out pretty quickly. And I guess I want to look at the other side of that. Do you have -- can you provide us, Peter, your updated thoughts on industry capacity creep and any perspective you have on the operating rates for the mills that restarted 2017, 2018? Is that fully in the market now, any perspective that you can provide there?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Sean. Well, I'll do my best. Obviously, we have limited perspective on our competitors' operations. But if you look at the APA production stats, you could sort of say -- you could sort of calculate that on average over the year mills run at about 91% of their rated capacity, in that range anyways. And we sort of -- from that, we would expect that these mills have started up middle of last year, are getting pretty close to their sort of rated numbers.

And so know I think there is not -- there is not a lot left of volume increases from those ramp ups, would be my expectation. In terms of creep, you know we've always talked about the fact that it's our belief that capacity only expands where there is a significant capital project to support us. And if there isn't, there is very limited opportunity to make a substantial difference in the amount of volume that's available out of an existing mill.

Sean Steuart -- TD Securities -- Analyst

Okay, that's helpful. And a follow-up on Europe as well. The indication was that the Inverness ramp was a little bumpy in Q3. How fast does that get resolved? Is this a one quarter issue or is this just a multi-quarter ramp to get where you want it?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

It's a good question. You know as we have talked about in the past, we opted to invest at about 50% of greenfields. In return that meant a ramp up spread out over four years as we sort of layer in the investment. So ramp ups are never smooth, but at the moment, it looks like we're back on track to our original ramp up schedule after that bumpiness in the third quarter.

Sean Steuart -- TD Securities -- Analyst

Okay, that's all I have for now. Thank you very much.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Sean.

Operator

Thank you. We will take our next question. And that is from Andrew Kuske with Credit Suisse. Please go ahead.

Andrew Kuske -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Thank you, good morning. Maybe a big picture question, just on industry outlook given some of the curtailment sort of happened. Do you look at the setup of the industry as being somewhat similar to what we saw in the early 2000s where housing trends continue to increase? Market capacity was tight and it's getting tighter for different reasons this time around, but obviously there is fewer players in the industry versus the early 2000s. So I guess how do you think about just the cycle we're seeing now?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Good morning, Andrew. I mean that's kind of a very broad question, but I guess the way I would answer it is, certainly there is fewer players in the industry, but what has been important for the market has been a housing demand picture that is much lower in developing than has been forecast. And I think decisions have been made in the past number of years to start up capacity, anticipating housing to recover faster to that 1.5 million level that everybody has been talking about, and that may or may not materialize.

And I think you know, certainly this has resulted in the kind of conditions that caused us to have to pause and make decisions around two of our operations and we are now sort of setting our perspectives on housing starts in the 1.2 million to 1.3 million range. That's probably something we should be thinking about over the longer or the near-term outlook, but you know Upper South was obviously different than what it was in the early 2000s, but that doesn't mean that the OSB market can't be stronger. As you know, that's always determined by the balance between demand and supply.

Andrew Kuske -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

That's helpful. And maybe just another difference between now versus then, it's just the alternative avenues for OSB products. So you spent a lot of time on specialty product. But when you look at just other source, whether it's for furniture supply or industrial applications, could you give us a bit of a flavor of what your mix is now into that channel and how do you think of just the broader industry?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I think that's a very valid point because if you go back to that early 2000 periods, well over 70% or even 80% of the industry's OSB production served the new home construction markets. Today, that's probably only about 50% or 55% and so we have seen growth in R&R and the industrial segment. And certainly for Norbord's case -- in Norbord's case, we are at about 50% of new home, 25% specialty and 25% R&R. So we're probably slightly ahead of the overall average. But that is a significant change in the makeup of how OSB is consumed.

Andrew Kuske -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay, that's very helpful. Thank you so much.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks Andrew.

Operator

Thank you. We will take our next question from Mark Weintraub with Seaport Global. Please go ahead.

Mark Weintraub -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Thank you. Good morning. Hoping to get an update on any thoughts you have as to inventories in the channel?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Mark. Yeah I think our perspective is, first of all, it's impossible to measure this accurately. But our perspective, based on what we understand from most of our customers is that inventory has continued to shrink during the year and that's inventory expressed in terms of days of sales of our customer's start-ups, the only sort of -- the only kind of reference that we have. And we believe it is, as a result of that, pretty skinny at the moment.

Mark Weintraub -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Okay. And that's on a days of supply basis obviously. If demand gets better that looks even skinnier, I guess would be a variable, Yeah.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

That's right. And we often fight yesterday's battles when it comes to -- yeah.

Mark Weintraub -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

And Another question I guess is the 100 Mile House, you took down that entire facility. You referenced, among other things, also, some of the fiber cost issues longer term. Cordele, somewhat different set of scenario -- different scenarios, different set of circumstances. How -- is there a difference in terms of the speed with which you could bring back these operations if in fact demand surprises to the upside, again, recognizing that's and if, But if it were to, what type of capability you have to bring back the operations at the appropriate time, if need be?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I mean, this is sort of theoretical, I guess, at this point, because we are -- we've not been actively thinking about that in the short-term anyways. But in 100 Mile House, the good question is a longer-term challenge. But I sure know there's lots of sawmills in the area that are -- have been announcing curtailments as well. So how that all shakes out, will probably take some time to develop and what that then ultimately means for wood costs in the region, which was one of the principal factors that made the economics of that mill very difficult.

And in Cordele, we don't have those kinds of circumstances. These are more market conditions. But the challenge in the Cordele region as it is in a lot of the United States is that unemployment is almost at zero. So, there the biggest challenge will probably be if and when conditions improve getting employees back to man the -- to man the plant.

Mark Weintraub -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

All right. Thanks Mark.

Operator

Thank you. We will take our next question from Paul Quinn with RBC Capital Markets. Please go ahead.

Paul Quinn -- RBC Capital Markets. -- Analyst

Yeah, thanks very much. Good morning.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Paul.

Paul Quinn -- RBC Capital Markets. -- Analyst

Maybe I'll just start on costs and taking a look at your slide here, it looks like you got some -- key input prices were up, but your usage was down and they sort of balanced off. And I'm just wondering, how do you get the cost down 4% quarter-over-quarter and 3% year-over-year?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So I mean, good morning -- I guess I said that already, sorry. You know our -- what we're trying to do is get to a place where the mills we are operating can run more efficiently. And that's the process that we're going through. As we, I guess -- you know that kind of sounds perverted, but the benefits of taking two of our mills down indefinitely.

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, it's really -- to summarize there, it's consolidating the downtime we've been taking across our portfolio in a more efficient way, which is really what you're starting to see in our comps.

Paul Quinn -- RBC Capital Markets. -- Analyst

Okay, then maybe Peter you highlighted in the industrial growth of your OSB component, can you give us some color which areas are growing and any kind of metrics you can share around what percentage, I guess 25% would be the percentage on the industrial side?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I think, we have talked in the past about the fact that we have penetrated significantly and where the biggest and the most obvious demand was for OSB to penetrate which was sort of the upholstered furniture sector and we have talked about the next area of relevance being, what I would broadly call the transportation sector.

And -- you know that's where we have started to make progress with a number of different products we referenced precision sanding in our quarterly documentation. We now have two state-of-the-art sanding lines at two of our operations, which was I think the requirement to further penetrate into that kind of a market and they are now up and running and we've had some very positive feedback from some of our customers. So we expect to see sort of good growth in those elements over the next year.

Paul Quinn -- RBC Capital Markets. -- Analyst

Okay, great. And then just lastly, I guess on -- in Europe on Inverness. Peter, you mentioned four years of growth. Is that the way we should think about the volume expansion just, that would be done over the next four years?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

That's Right. I think it was designed that way, both from a capital efficiency or low upfront capital cost perspective, but also because we did not want to dump four or five -- 400,000 cubic meters of that market at all once. So we thought that this was a -- it was a lower risk way to approach the market and to deal with our shareholders' capital, but there are some operational challenges that come with that.

Paul Quinn -- RBC Capital Markets. -- Analyst

Great. All right, that's all I had. Best of luck, thanks.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Paul.

Operator

Thank you. We will take our next question. And that is from Chip Dillon with Vertical Research Partners. Please go ahead.

Salvator Tiano -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Hi guys. This is Salvator Tiano sitting in for Chip, how are you?

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Hi, good morning, Salvator.

Salvator Tiano -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Good morning. So firstly -- good morning, firstly, to dig a little bit deeper on the unit growth, you did lower than 3%, 4% now. Can you elaborate a little bit how much this is from efficiencies that you're generating and the input cost versus the curtailments of the mills?

And as we look going forward. I think the second line. You mentioned in Georgia, it's a low-cost line. So does this mean there could be some headwinds to costs going forward -- to unit costs going forward so they could increase slightly or be flat despite the closure?

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So I'll address that -- the second part of your question first Salvator. As I mentioned, in response to an earlier question, we have taken 45 employees out of that mill, the costs associated with those employees, so that will make it a low cost way to take a curtailment. But I wouldn't read too much into that. The unit cost, the question on how our unit costs are down so significantly, is very little to do with input prices, you can see in variance table, you know a fairly modest benefit year-over-year, $2 million across the entire company from lower raw material prices and a $2 million headwind quarter over quarter.

So that's not really the driver of it. It is operating efficiency and so it's the benefit of spreading our -- of consolidating the downtime into -- in a more -- into a couple of mills and running the ones that are operating more efficiently. The benefit, you see of that by spreading our volume over the fixed costs.

Salvator Tiano -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Yeah, if you can clarify a little bit, how should we think about them in the future, you know in the next few quarters versus the current level?

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well, I mean we can't provide any guidance on that, but it depends. If we don't see any change in input prices, consolidating downtime into the Cordele Line 1 in the fourth quarter, which is going to happen in mid-November. That will further allow us to gain efficiencies.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

But there's always some seasonality to it.

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

There is always seasonality. And as a reminder, the fourth quarter around the holiday period is the time when we concentrate our annual maintenance shuts at our mill and so not only is there a volume impact from that, but also we spend money to do maintenance in mills when they're -- this is the kind of maintenance you can only do when they're shutdown. So all else being equal, you would normally expect costs to tick up in the winter quarters.

Salvator Tiano -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Okay that makes sense. And I hope, if you can provide some more details on the budget for -- the capex budget for next year is $100 million. Is it safe to assume, and I think I saw something in you report that essentially Chambord is on track to be ready at some point to be, you know where you can make a quick decision for a restart soon or is this something that you perhaps leap further into 2021 perhaps?

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well, we've always said our goal at Chambord was to deal with the long lead-time items, so that we would be in a position within about six months' notice of a decision to start production. To be clear, we have not made that decision, but we've been -- we've obviously pulled it right back on the pace of the capital spending other than for the long lead-time items. So those will be done and out of the way. And then with six months' notice, we can invest the rest of the capital, get a workforce back in place and reestablished logging infrastructure, when and if that time comes.

Salvator Tiano -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Okay. And when you start to invest in this project, obviously we thought that at some point is demand is better, you will pull the trigger and now you have two curtailed mills. Can you give us a little bit a sense of each market, again the market improves, whether it's 2020 or 2021? What's kind of the pecking order for a potential new capacity? Would that be Chambord because it's -- you know you made more recent investments or could that Line 1 in Georgia restart before that because of its low unit costs?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So, obviously, Salvator, we've been preoccupied with making the difficult decisions to shut these two lines down. That's been what our focus has been. Should we be under circumstances where market demand is such additional capacity is required. We haven't really thought around how we would prioritize that, because obviously that also will depend on where we see -- what region of the country where we will see a sustainable improvement in demand that would support additional production.

The only other point I would make is that our expectation is that once up and running Chambord would be a very low cost mill. So those are the kind of things that we would have to take into consideration as we think our way through whether it makes sense to start up capacity when it does -- or when it makes sense to start up capacity.

Salvator Tiano -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Okay, perfect, and then just one last one -- I'm sorry?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So I'll say, in the meantime, obviously we will make sure that our mills are maintained in the state of readiness.

Salvator Tiano -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Okay. Probably just one last one on capital allocation, you reduced the variable dividend and I wonder, obviously you know the downturn the market has perceived for a few quarters, but when have you seen, on your end, change in the past, one to two quarters when you -- you know initially you were actually very confident in maintaining that CAD40 -- CAD40.4 [Phonetic] level and you know now we actually saw that you pushed back, at last quarter your maturities and after you got more flexibility you decide to lower the dividend. So is it just because you keep on -- your net debt keeps on increasing and your cash flow comes in lower than what you expected to be or are there other considerations there as well including potential buybacks?

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well, so as Salvator, you heard Peter outline in the -- at the start of the call that we have started to see the housing market recently improving in the US but it's been slower than we anticipated due to an overhang of unsold new home inventory. And so, it's been taking longer than we and I think most others had expected to translate into a stronger OSB market and this has pressured our financial results in the past three quarters. In addition to that, we're entering the seasonally slower-winter construction season for the next two quarters.

And so the Board felt it was prudent to reduce the dividend level for now. Just to put -- zoom out and put some perspective on this. You know, we have a variable dividend policy, and since we introduced it in early 2013, the Board has adjusted the level of the dividend up and down several times as our operating cash flow and outlook have changed.

So if you look back over that 6.5 year period, we've returned $1 billion to our shareholders, mostly through dividends and more recently through buying back our stock under the normal course issuer bid. So this is just a continuation of the track record we built-out since we introduced that policy 6.5 years ago.

Salvator Tiano -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Thank you very much.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks Salvator.

Operator

Thank you. We will take our next question from Ketan Mamtora with BMO Capital Markets. Please go ahead.

Ketan Mamtora -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Thank you. Peter, I'm just curious, you know with 2019 shaping up to be a much difficult year, are you guys seeing any M&A opportunities in North America, or for that matter, even in Europe. I know there are more kind of family companies in Europe, but I'm just curious if there are -- if you are seeing more opportunities?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, I mean we haven't seen anything yet, but we're keeping our ear close to the telephone necessarily.

Ketan Mamtora -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Got it. And then just a clarification question. Robin, is there any way to quantify the impact of shutdowns or sort of downtime in Europe in Q3?

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well, not precisely, but I mean normally when we take an annual maintenance shut, they're highlighted in the context of North America. We do spend money to do the kind of maintenance you can't do when the mill is running, and it usually ends up being significant. So you know a couple of million dollars probably related to those shuts.

Ketan Mamtora -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Got it. That's very helpful. I'll turn it over. Good luck in 2020.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Ketan.

Operator

Thank you. We will take our next question from Hamir Patel with CIBC Capital Markets. Please go ahead.

Hamir Patel -- CIBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Hey, good morning. Peter, the strong R&R growth you guys are seeing sort of over 20% this year clearly driven by low OSB prices. So if we see a much stronger pricing environment for OSB next year, would you expect your volumes into that Big Box channel to be down next year?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

It's an interesting question Hamir. I don't know if it's so clearly that it is driven by lower OSB prices. We understand from the Big Box -- Big Boxes that sales, they have gained share not just in OSB, but in other products as well. So there is more at work than just a lower OSB prices, as best as we can tell. So I would certainly expect that with higher prices that pace of growth might slow down but more in line with what we have seen in the past, but it does look like there is some market share gain there.

Hamir Patel -- CIBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Thanks. Peter. That's helpful. And just sort of the turn to Europe and any comments you might have on how that European Spruce Beetle might be affecting the cost curve for the European panel industry and does that maybe favor plywood more than OSB?

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, there is no plywood production on the continent. I think the only place where there is plywood is in Russia and the Baltics and that's more focused on Birch. So you know, the impact of this beetle kill so far has been felt strongest in Central Europe. So, let's call it the Czech Republic and Southern Germany, so that that area. And I think the question will be, if we get a -- if we get a more typical winter this year, so it's colder weather, this may be a sort of a two-year -- have a two-year tail.

If the weather continues to be warmer than usual in that part of the world, you know that tail maybe longer. So it has had the impact of reducing wood costs in that part of the world, so that wood is consumed primarily by sawmills but also by one or two OSB mills in the area. And that's sort of the impact that we have seen sort of spreading throughout. So for us, for example, in our mill in Belgium, we get sort of an indirect impact such that lower cost wood from the centers for the slowly deflects outwards. Does that make sense?

Hamir Patel -- CIBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Great, thank, Peter that -- yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. That's all I had. I'll turn it over. Thanks.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks very much.

Operator

Thank you. This concludes the question-and-answer session. I will now turn the conference back over to Peter Wijnbergen.

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you very much, Ryan. As always, Robin, Heather, and now, Robert are all available to respond to any further questions you may have. Thank you all for your participation today and I look forward to reporting on our progress next quarter. Have a good day. And whatever Halloween is, I guess, today. So have fun dressing up.

Duration: 39 minutes

Call participants:

Peter C. Wijnbergen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Robin E. Lampard -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

John Babcock -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Sean Steuart -- TD Securities -- Analyst

Andrew Kuske -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Mark Weintraub -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Paul Quinn -- RBC Capital Markets. -- Analyst

Salvator Tiano -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Ketan Mamtora -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Hamir Patel -- CIBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

More OSB analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo