The sluggish housing market continued to hamper Builders FirstSource (BFS) as the Dallas-based dealer today reported a net loss of $15.9 million for the third quarter 2009. But that's still an improvement from a net loss of $18.9 million for the same period a year ago.

Net sales for the quarter were $188.9 million, down 29% compared to sales of $266.0 million in the third quarter of 2008.

While BFS has seen a slight improvement in the market, the company does not expect the trend to continue.

"We believe the momentum seen early in the quarter was largely due to the first time home buyer tax credit contained in the economic stimulus package," CEO Floyd Sherman said in a prepared statement.

"We expect to see starts continue to fall off as the December 1 expiration date of this program nears and as we enter the seasonal building trough," Sherman added.

The dealer estimates that market share losses reduced its sales by about 8% as a result of "an extremely competitive pricing environment," it said. But for the year, BFS estimates that market share growth added more than 6% to its sales.

BFS's average full-time equivalent headcount for the quarter was 3,100, down 38.4% from a year ago while salaries and benefits expense flexed approximately 100% with the dealer's sales decline, it reported.

Reductions in payroll costs along with other cost reductions allowed BFS to reduce its selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses by $20.3 million, or 29.2%. As a percentage of sales, SG&A expenses were 26.1%, consistent with the third quarter of 2008 on $77.1 million less sales.

Unlike the pervious quarter, BFS did not close any of its facilities. BFS operates 55 distribution centers and 51 manufacturing facilities in nine states.

The company reported a loss from continuing operations of $15.9 million, compared to a loss of $15.6 million in the same quarter last year.

BFS also reported that its adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $4.8 million for the quarter compared to a loss of $6.1 million in the corresponding period last year.