Huttig Building Products' net loss for the second quarter shrank slightly from the year-earlier period, to $1.9 million from $2.3 million, despite a 2.5% drop in sales to $130.6 million, the company reported to the SEC today.

The operating loss improved even more, to $1.2 million from a $1.8 million loss in 2010's April-June quarter, even though gross margin went up by 300 basis points to total 18.7% of sales, or $24.4 million. "The increase in gross margin percentage in 2011 over 2010 was primarily due to higher margins on millwork sales offset by the impact from changes in product mix as well as higher raw material costs," Huttig's SEC filing said. "Additionally, we continue to see competitive pricing pressure brought by the down housing market. The pricing pressure is expected to continue for the remainder of 2011."

Operating expenses were $900,000 lower at $25.6 million. Interest expenses jumped by $200,000, hitting $700,000, because of higher debt levels and higher interest rates.

Millwork sales dropped roughly 10% to total $55.3 million, or 42% of all second-quarter sales; that's down from 46% a year before. Meanwhile, general building products increased 2% to $58.4 million, causing that sector's share of total sales to climb to 45% from 43%. Wood products sales, meanwhile, rose 11% to hit $16.9 million. As a result the share all sales contributed by wood products fattened to 13% from 11%.

Days of sales outstanding held steady at 39.4 days as of June 30, but inventory turns slipped to 7.4 from the 7.7 turns posted in 2Q10. Days payable outstanding increased to 38.1 days from 36.3.

St. Louis-based Huttig operates 27 distribution centers serving 41 states.