Net earnings at Eagle Materials fell 70%, compared with the same period a year ago, to $3.1 million during its fiscal first quarter, the company announced today. Revenues also slipped 8% during the quarter to $119.8 million.

The Dallas-based building materials manufacturer blamed its performance on weak demand for its products and low levels of construction activity. The company said it is working to "right-size" its operations to become more efficient in response to the weaker demand.

Eagle Materials' gypsum wallboard segment reported a 77% drop in operating earnings, which finished the quarter at $1.2 million. Sales for the segment also dropped 12% to $51.3 million. The gypsum paperboard segment posted a 21% drop in operating earnings, to $3 million, even though sales increased a little more than a 1% to finish at $19 million. The company cited lower wallboard net sales prices and sales volumes were the primary driver of the segment's declining performance.

Sales volume for gypsum wallboard decreased 9% to 412 million square feet. Overall production of paperboard, which includes both internal and external products, fell 3% to 57 million tons. Sales prices for gypsum wallboard fell 8% to $90.03 per million square feet, while paperboard increased 5% to a price of $505.61 per ton.

The cement segment announced total operating earnings of $8.8 million, a 35% decline compared with a year ago. Revenues for the segment also declined 12% to $37.7 million. The concrete and aggregates segment fell into the red with a $235,000 operating loss, a huge swing compared with the $315,000 operating profit the segment posted during the first quarter last year. Sales for the segment increased just over $500,000 to finish at $11.7 million.

Overall, gross profit at Eagle Materials fell 55% to $7.4 million to start off the fiscal year. Operating earnings also declined 46% to $12.7 million.