Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. roared back into the black during the first quarter, swinging to net profit of C$15.7 million (US$15.5 million) from a year-earlier loss of C$54.2 million (US$53.4 million) on a 17% rise in sales to C$81 million (US$79.8 million).

Ainsworth prefers to measure its results by adjusted EBITDA--earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization as well as before gains on disposals of property, the costs of curtailed operations, stock options expenses, foreign exchange factors, income tax recoveries, and non-recurring items. By that metric, adjusted EBITDA grew to C$14.8 million (US$14.6 million) from C$1.1 million (US$1.08 million) in January through March 2009.

Vancouver, B.C.-based Ainsworth gave much of the credit for the improvement to the one-third increase in the price of oriented strand board (OSB), Ainsworth's major product. The average North Central price for 7/16-inch OSB was US$214 per million square feet (msf) in the first quarter, Ainsworth noted, while the average price in 2009's first quarter was about US$60/msf lower.

Meanwhile, the cost of products sold actually declined 3.3% to C$61.6 million (US$60.7 million). OSB shipments rose 10%.

"We are continuing to execute on the strategic plan we developed in 2009," Rick Huff, Ainsworth's president and CEO, said in a May 10 announcement. "This plan advances our ability to deliver innovative value-added products, increases the geographic diversity of our sales, positions the company well for future growth, and supports our commitment to managing our cash responsibly while operating safely and efficiently."