This week's earnings news

L&W Supply improved its operating loss to $2 million during the first quarter from a loss of $6 million a year earlier as sales rose 4.1% to $281 million for the same period, the specialty dealer's parent USG announced April 24.

The Chicago-based drywall retailer's same-store net sales increased 9% during the quarter from the first quarter of 2012 as wallboard prices jumped 17% to $153.07 per thousand square feet from a year earlier.

L&W Supply ranked sixth on the 2012 ProSales 100 list of top U.S. building material dealers with $1.06 billion in sales to professional builders and contractors across 155 locations during 2011.

Boise Cascade reported first-quarter earnings of $12.2 million after income taxes on sales of $744.9 million, compared to net income of $1.7 million on sales of $543.7 million a year earlier, driven primarily by a rise in new-home construction during the period and strong commodity wood pricing, the company announced April 22.

Boise's wood-products business posted a $27.1 million quarterly EBITDA gain as sales rose 28% to $269.2 million thanks in part to rising wood-product sales prices and volumes during the period. Plywood prices increased 24%, while sales volumes for LVL and I-joists grew 28% and 37%, respectively.

Its distribution arm attributed 18% of its 29% first-quarter sales gain (to $581.1 million) to higher prices and 9% to an increase in shipments. EBITDA for the segment was $10.2 million compared to $1.4 million a year earlier.

UFPI: Higher lumber prices and an increase in U.S. housing starts were offset by weather less favorable to repair and remodeling projects compared to a year earlier as first-quarter sales in Universal Forest Products' (UFPI) retail building-materials division rose 4.9% to $205.7 million from the first quarter of 2012, the wood-products company announced April 17.

"Retail building materials was down, both in dollars and units," UPFI CEO Matthew Missad told analysts in a call last week. "The same-store sales of our products are down versus 2012 at the big-box retailers. We believe that much of this difference is related to weather, which was much better for DIY projects in 2012 than this year so far, but we are hopeful that unit sales will increase as the weather improves."

Weather proved less of a hindrance to UFPI's other production and construction divisions as the company posted its most profitable first quarter since 2006, netting $5.2 million, a 25.7% increase from a year earlier, on a 21.3% sales gain to $554.5 million for the same period.

A 21% increase in wood-product prices during the first quarter from a year earlier helped sales in the company's residential construction business. Quarterly revenues grew 43% to $74.3 million from a year earlier and help to grow that's segment's share of UFPI's total quarterly sales to 13% during the period, up two percentage points from a year earlier. Retail building-material's share fell to 37% of quarterly sales in the most recent quarter from 42% a year earlier.

"Our big area of focus right now is the lumber market," Missad said. "With prices hovering in the $425 to $475 per thousand board foot range, we feel very confident that, given a reasonable economy, we will eclipse our sales numbers for the year versus 2012," adding that the company is experience a shortage of supply "on certain terms."

Owens Corningreported first-quarter net earnings of $22 million, up from a loss of $46 million a year earlier, while sales remained flat at $1.3 billion for both periods, the building-products manufacturer announced April 24.

Gains in roofing doubled EBIT for the company's building materials arm, valuing $98 million for the period. Roofing's 43% EBIT increase to $119 million was slightly offset by a $13 million drop in the company's insulation business. Roofing sales grew 3.2% from a year earlier to $607 million while insulation sales inched downward from $331 million a year earlier to $330 million in the first quarter.