L&W Supply, the distribution arm of USG, improved its operating loss by $7 million from the same period a year ago to end the third quarter with a $17 million deficit, USG announced today. Sales for the division also increased $2 million to $283 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30.

An adjusted operating loss, which USG defines as excluding restructuring charges and non-cash long-lived asset impairment charges from its operating loss, of $10 million was reported for L&W Supply. That mark is a $9 million improvement from a year ago.

Overall, USG fell deeper into the red with a $115 million net loss, a $15 million difference from the same period a year ago. Operating loss also widened to $76 million, an $18 million deepening from last year. Net sales increased, however, by 4.5% to $792 million. The company's adjusted operating loss was $17 million, an improvement over the $23 million adjusted loss posted during the third quarter last year.

The cost of products sold also rose 4.5% to $739 million, while restructuring and long-lived asset impairment charges jumped 69% to $59 million.

The company said a majority of its charges during the quarter were non-cash and mostly related to the planned closure of a gypsum quarry and ship loading facility in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada that were idled early in the year. USG the operations were idled as part of the company's plans to adjust to market conditions.

"Many of our key markets continue to experience recessionary levels of demand that are near record lows," said USG president and CEO James S. Metcalf. "To accomplish both our short-term objective of returning the company to an operating profit and our longer term aspiration of reducing volatility in our earnings, we will continue to execute our three strategic priorities: strengthening core businesses, diversifying earnings and differentiating USG through innovation."

As for prices and shipments, USG's gypsum wallboard prices fell 2.4% to $111.66 per thousand square feet. The company shipped 1.05 billion square feet of the product, an almost 2% increase from third quarter 2010.