Boise Cascade Holdings LLC (BC Holdings) swung to a net profit of $11.4 million in the first quarter from a year-earlier net loss of $87.7 million, the company reported this morning.

The net income included $25.3 million from the sale of the remaining 18.3 million shares that BC Holdings held in Boise Inc., the paper, packing, newsprint, and transportation businesses that Boise Cascade spun off in February 2008. The company also realized $1.9 million of non-cash income associated with the company's investment in Boise Inc. On an operating basis, the company's operating loss shrank to $10.6 million in the quarter from $48.3 million a year earlier.

Sales company-wide rose 17% from the January-March 2009 period to $477.4 million.

"Absent a change in unemployment trends, stronger levels of consumer confidence, and a reduction in foreclosures, we expect to continue to experience below-normal demand for the products we distribute and manufacture," the company said. "Industry commodity wood product prices may be volatile in response to operating rates, inventory levels in various distribution channels, and import activity."

BC Holdings' building products subsidiary, Boise Cascade L.L.C., reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of negative $1.8 million, sharply below the negative EBITDA of $31.3 million in 2009's first quarter.

The Boise, Idaho-based company's building materials distribution segment reported sales of $389.1 million for the quarter, up 16%. The segment also reported a quarterly EBITDA of $1.1 million, marking a $7.7 million improvement from the corresponding quarter a year ago due primarily to higher prices for commodity products, BC Holdings said.

The wood product ssegment posted a 27% rise in sales to $148 million. Sales volumes for engineered wood products climbed more than 50%, lumber prices jumped 37%, lumber sales volumes climbed 19%, and plywood prices went up 15%. The segment broke even in the first quarter on an EBITDA basis, reporting a profit of $100,000 compared with negative $28.6 million in first quarter 2009.

"We are encouraged by the improvement in our first quarter operating results and our strong liquidity position," CEO Tom Carlile said.