Huttig Building Products announced today its net loss deepened to $500,000 in the fourth quarter from $400,000 in the year-earlier period even though sales grew 8% to $145.2 million. In contrast, the net loss for the full year improved to $2.2 million from 2013's $3.2 million on an 11% rise in sales to $623.7 million.

"The housing market continued to show modest improvement in 2014 though the single-family segment growth was not as robust as many had anticipated," Jon Vrabely, Huttig's president and CEO. said in an earnings announcement. "We were pleased that our revenue growth outpaced the market as we executed on our strategic growth initiatives, including the introduction of new products in our building materials business. We continued to reinvest in our people, technology platform, and growth initiatives in 2014. However, as a result of a softer than anticipated market, some of these investments had a short-term dilutive effect on our earnings. While we may have been ahead of the market from an investment perspective in 2014, we believe these investments will enhance our ability to generate profitable sales growth as the residential construction market continues to improve."

Gross margin slipped to 19.8% in the fourth quarter from 20.3% for 2013's October-December period. Operating expenses rose to $28.5 million from $27.1 million.

Huttig operates 27 distribution centers serving 41 states. Based in St. Louis, it sells principally to building materials dealers, national buying groups, home centers and industrial users, including makers of manufactured homes.