Universal Forest Products Inc. reported April 16 a loss of $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2009, about a quarter the $4.6 million loss it incurred in the opening three months of 2008, even though net sales dropped 26% to $361.7 million from $489.5 million in the year-earlier quarter.
Sales to the site-built construction market sank 43.2% to $60.8 million. The Grand Rapids, MIch.-based company noted that housing starts have shrunk markedly--the federal government reported April 16 that starts nationally in March were down 48.4% from the March 2008 rate--while composite prices for lumber are 19% below where they were last year. Universal is focusing on multifamily housing and commercial construction, where it has identified opportunities, the company said in a statement.
"We are pleased with results like these in tough economic times and in a quarter that historically comprises a slow selling season," CEO Michael B. Glenn said. "These numbers reflect production efficiencies resulting from the improvement efforts of our employees and a strong business model that promotes sales to multiple industries and markets. ... We continue to size our capacity to meet market demand as necessary, but after a year of difficult decisions and moves, there is a renewed optimism and a bounce in our step."
Sales to the do-it-yourself market via retail-oriented stores slipped 4.2% to $168.1 million. Universal said it benefits from sales of new productsdecking and lawn and garden products, and by adding additional customer locations. Sales of industrial packaging and components slid 25.8% to $103.7 million, while sales to the manufactured housing industry sank 52.2% to $36.6 million.