Eagle Materials’ fiscal third quarter net earnings plummeted almost 50% from the same period a year ago, finishing at $2.9 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company announced today. Revenues at the Dallas-based aggregates and gypsum manufacturer jumped 19% to $123.6 million.

“Eagle’s low cost operations continued to execute well during this challenging environment for U.S. construction activity,” the company said.

The company’s wallboard and paperboard segment swung into the black with operating earnings of $5.4 million, up from the $375,000 operating loss it posted a year ago. Segment revenues increased 24% to $73.5 million. Eagle Materials cited higher wallboard and paperboard net sales prices and improved paperboard sales volumes as the key reasons for the improved results.

The average wallboard net sales price for the quarter was $94.86 per million square feet, up 9% from the same period last year. Gypsum wallboard sales volumes also increased 9% to 421 million square feet. Paperboard grew its net sales average by 10% to $527.42 per ton for the quarter. Sales volumes improved 21% to 57,000 tons.

As for the company’s other segments, the cement segment, including both wholly owned and joint ventures, reported operating earnings of $15.5 million, a $200,000 increase over the period last year. Sales for the segment grew 17% to $40.1 million.

The concrete and aggregates segment fell into the red with a $620,000 loss, compared with a $154,000 profit a year ago, as revenues remained virtually the same at $10.1 million.

Overall, gross profit jumped 60% to $12.5 million, despite a 16% rise in cost of goods sold to $111.1 million.