An increase in residential construction and a lumber price rally at the close of 2012 drove wood-product sales and bottom-line gains for timber manufacturers:

Universal Forest Products Inc.'s building-material sales dipped 3.5% to $159.5 million during the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year earlier.Read More

Interfor pegged its highest sales volume during the fourth quarter at 384 million board feet, generating $173.3 million compared to $133.6 million for the year-earlier quarter, as milder weather and an uptick in construction pushed demand. Still, 4Q 2012 lumber production dipped slightly from the previous quarter to 347 million board feet as the company reduced capacity at key mills to contend will log shortages. The average lumber selling price at $452 per thousand board feet was up $10 and $32 from the previous quarter and the year-earlier quarter, respectively. Read the full report.

Canfor’s bottom line dipped slightly to $21.6 million during the fourth quarter from a year earlier while sales jumped 25.3% to $721.8 million for the same period. For the year, the wood-products maker reversed its $56.6 million loss to post a gain of $32.1 million for the period. Read the full report.

Western Fraser Timber’s earnings more than tripled during the fourth quarter to $22 million from the year-earlier period as sales grew by $123 million to $773 million from a year earlier. The company’s lumber segment reported operating earnings of $52 million (compared with $37 million in the prior quarter) and EBITDA of $75 million (up from $58 million during the third quarter). Read the full report.

The rebounding home-building sector positively impacted other building-products segments:

Owens Corning’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) dropped during the fourth quarter to $16 million from $88 million a year earlier as sales dipped to $1.15 billion from $1.19 billion for the same period. For the year, the building-products maker posted EBIT of $148 million, less than one-half of 2011’s $461 million EBIT gain, as sales slid to $5.17 billion from $5.34 billion for the same period. The company’s building-materials segment’s EBIT remained 7% of sales, despite a slight drop to $763 million from $771 million a year earlier—still, less roofing activity than a year earlier slowed roofing sales although price increases announced at the start of 2013 are likely to boost 1Q margins above year-earlier levels. Owens Corning narrowed its insulation products’ 2011 EBIT loss of $97 million to post a loss of $38 million for the year as sales climbed by $1 million to $1.47 billion for the same period. Read the full report.

Trex narrowed its 4Q loss to $3.6 million from $18.3 million during the same period a year earlier despite a 10% dip in sales to $46.2 million for the period. For the year, the decking maker reported a net gain of $26.4 million compared to a loss of $3.9 million in 2011 on sales of $307.4 million, up 15% from 2011. The year-end gains don’t include a $21.5 million pre-tax increase to the company’s warranty reserve for faulty product manufactured at its Nevada plant before 2007 as well as $1.5 million for costs associated with a mold-related class-action suite. Read the full report.

American Woodmark reversed its year-ago third-quarter net loss of $2.8 million to post a $2.1 million gain for the third quarter of the fiscal year ending April 30 as sales climbed 26% to $151.3 million for the same period. The company attributed more than half of its sales gains to new construction. Read the full report.

Masco’s improved its operating loss in its cabinetry segment to $120 million during 2012 from $206 million a year earlier despite a 3.4% dip in sales to $1.19 billion for the same period. Segment margins dropped three percentage points during the year to 10.1% in 2012 from 13.2% in 2011. Read the full report.

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