Louisiana-Pacific Corp. (LP) reported today that its third-quarter net loss narrowed to $12.5 million from a year-earlier net loss of $111.1 million.

LP's total sales for the quarter fell 21% to $309 million. The company attributed the decline to the 31% fall in housing starts during the period.

"While the housing market continues to be very depressed, there were seasonal improvements in demand and a few encouraging signs that the housing market is beginning to recover," LP CEO Rick Frost said in a prepared statement. "However, much of the credit is due to the focus on cost containment, managing our operations more efficiently and lower raw materials costs."

The Nashville, Tenn.-based company also reported a loss from continuing operations of $12.7 million for the third quarter; an 87% improvement from $100.4 million in 2008's July-October period. Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) from continuing operations for the third quarter swung to an $11 million profit from a $27.5 million loss in the third quarter last year.

LP's OSB segment reported net sales dropped 33% to $123 million in the third quarter from the year-earlier total of $183 million. During the latest period, LP curtailed operations at four mills due to market conditions and is currently operating eight facilities. Sales volume dropped 26% in the third quarter, LP said.

LP's siding segment, which includes LP SmartSide Trim & Siding as well as LP Canexel Prefinished Siding, had a 5% drop in net sales to $111 million from $117 million.

The company's engineered wood products segment, including I-Joist, laminated veneer lumber and laminated strand lumber, reported sales slumped 25% to $48 million from $63 million.

In the third quarter, LP also completed an equity offering of $20.7 million shares that raised about $123.3 million in net cash after expenses. The company used $112.6 million of the cash to retire $131.3 million of notes due in 2017.

"Looking forward, we believe that some recent improvements in housing statistics may bode well for the 2010 building season," Frost said. "Because the fourth quarter is historically a weak part of the year for demand, our goal for the remainder of the year is to conserve cash and improve liquidity so that when this economic downturn subsides, we will be well positioned to compete."