Bison Building Materials, the Houston-based LBM dealer that entered Chapter 11 half a year ago, posted a net loss of $457,887 for December. That brings its losses under bankruptcy-law protection from creditors to $3.4 million, and likely means Bison's net losses for 2009 neared $10 million. Also recently, the company won a judge's permission to extend its debtor-in-possession creditor facility and to hire WoodRock & Co. to help it find investors or otherwise raise capital.

Bison reported $7.6 million in revenues during December, but it also spent $5.4 million on the goods it sold, leaving it a gross profit of $2.3 million. Operating expenses totaled $2.4 million, and the company had to shell out an additional $345,336 in interest expense, depreciation, and other items. That produced the $457,887 loss.

As of Dec. 31, Bison had $10.4 million in accounts receivables, of which nearly $1.5 million--14.1% of the total--were past due more than 90 days.

December's loss was the second-smallest since Bison filed for Chapter 11 on June 28. That entry into court-provided protection came after a period in which Bison ran up $16.1 million losses in the fiscal year ended last April 30. Bison hasn't reported its income for May and most of June. But if one assumes that one-third of Bison's $16.1 million fiscal year loss came in the first four months of 2009, and if one adds the $3.4 million in losses between July and December, and then if one assumes May and June also were months with losses, then it's quite likely that Bison concluded 2009 with close to $10 million in net losses.

In court filings, Bison said its problems came after it began to expand along the Interstate 35 corridor in 2005 and then into Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio and New Mexico. When the housing downturn occurred, Bison retrenched to its core Texas business in metro Houston and encountered trouble unwinding its ventures outside of Texas. The company stood at No. 14 on lastyear's ProSales 100, with revenue in 2008 totaling $271 million. In contrast, according to bankruptcy court filings, its revenues for the second half of 2009 totaled just $58 million. Double that, and Bison in 2009 still was less than half the size it was the year before.

The WoodRock engagement appears designed to help Bison extricate itself. According to the agreement that Houston-based WoodRock made with Bison, WoodRock said its focus would "primarily be related to advising and assistng the company with raising and obtaining equity and/or debt capital." WoodRock also would assist Bison should the company enter into any merger or sale agreement.