Potlach Corp.’s wood products segment saw operating income jump by 72%, compared with the year-ago period, to hit $5 million for the first quarter of 2012 and representing a rebound from a  $1.3 million operating loss for the previous quarter, the company announced today.

Segment revenues for the quarter grew by 8% over the first quarter of 2011 to reach $73.9 million, largely thanks to strong demand in manufactured wood products pushing high production levels during the period. The first quarter numbers represent an increase of nearly 10% over the fourth quarter of 2011.

The Spokane, Wash.-based real estate investment trust credited strong demand for lumber during the quarter for a 10% increase in lumber shipments over the year-ago period and a 6% increase over the fourth quarter of 2011. Lumber prices increased by 6% over the previous quarter but remained consistent with the same period a year ago.

“Our Wood Products segment results solidly exceeded our expectations, as the first quarter of 2012 experienced a nice benefit from higher lumber and plywood prices that boosted results,” said Michael Covey, Potlach’s chairman, president and CEO, in a statement.

Resource-segment revenues fell nearly 22% from the first quarter of 2011 to hit $40.5 million with operating income falling 38% to hit $8.7 million for the same period. The company says the segment performed “as expected,” attributing the variances to a previously announced planned harvest deferral for 2012. Plus, increased logging in the first and fourth quarters of 2011 due to favorable conditions in Idaho upped customers’ inventories in the fourth quarter of 2011, resulting in lower demand for the first quarter of 2012.

Northern region first-quarter harvest volume declined by 17% from the year-ago period and by 16% from the previous quarter. First-quarter Southern-region harvest volume dropped 30% from the year-ago period and 31% from the previous quarter.

The company’s real estate revenues fell nearly 37% to reach $8.2 million during the period from the same quarter a year ago, while growing 1.5 times its fourth-quarter-2011 numbers. First-quarter operating income declining by one quarter to reach $6.3 million over the year-ago period, while nearly tripling over its fourth quarter 2011 numbers.

Overall, company saw profits fell 34% from the year-age period to hit $5 million for the quarter, but representing a gain over a $1.5 million loss for the previous quarter. First quarter revenues of $112.4 million reflect an 8% drop from a year ago but a slight increase of 2% from the previous quarter.