BlueLinx Holdings Inc. reported today its net loss shrank to $12.3 million in the first quarter from a $14.7 million loss in the year-earlier period on a 9.4% drop in revenue to $390.6 million.

"Our results were impacted by a housing market that contracted by almost 10%, an extremely long and severe winter, and a very competitive structural products market," chief executive officer George Judd said in the company's earnings announcement. The Atlanta-based distributor noted that revenues in the first three months of last year rode the wave of home sales that had been stimulated by the first-time homebuyer tax credit. That credit expired in April 2010. BlueLinx showed evidence of that impact by reporting that sales of structural products sold dropped 20.8% in January through March from the year before while sales of specialty products increased 0.8%.

Gross profit sank 11.5% to $46.3 million, while gross margins shrank to 11.8% from 12.1%. Total operating expenses were kept under control, dropping 14.7% to $48.4 million, helping lead to an operating loss of $5.1 million, an improvement from the $8 million operating loss in 2010's first quarter. (See details in the company's presentation to analysts delivered today.)

BlueLinx says it distributes more than10,000 products from 750+ suppliers to roughly 11,500 customers nationwide via a network of 60 distribution centers.