Universal Forest Products Inc. (UFPI) reported today its net earnings fell 25.2% to $4.2 million in the third quarter from the year-earlier period even as sales climbed 13.7% to $533.4 million. Earnings would have topped last year were it not for a one-time, pretax charge of $2 million to cover a loss contingency related to Canadian duties on goods UFPI imported from China.

The company-wide sales gain occurred in spite of a 3.1% drop in sales to retail building materials from the year before, cutting the sales total to $204.4 million. "The company focused on growing sales to independent retails while diversifying the products it offers to big box customers and enhancing other areas of customer relationships, such as service and innovation," UFPI said in a news release. "Sales to independent retailers increased by more than 16%." It didn't report how its sales to big box stores had changed.

Sales in Grand Rapids, Mich.-based UFPI's residential construction sector climbed 33.8% to $69.6 million, while the manufactured housing and recreational vehicles market posted a 35.5% jump over 3Q11 levels to $89 million.

Meanwhile, the commercial construction and concrete forming business posted an 11.4% gain to $23.9 million, while the industrial packaging/components sector touted a 20% gain to $153.9 million.