Huttig Building Products swung into the red during the fourth quarter, reporting today a net loss from continuing operations of $6.1 million vs. $800,000 in continuing operations ncome in the year-earlier period.

The latest report marked the seventh time in eight quarters that the St. Louis-based millwork and distribution company had reported losses from continuing operations, and it was the deepest net loss since the first quarter's $6.6 million.

Net sales for the quarter totaled $103.1 million, just $800,000 less than in the year-earlier quarter but down from the $133.9 million and $127.2 million recorded in the second and third quarters of 2010, respectively.

For all 2010, the company's net loss from continuing operations lessened a bit to $19.4 million from 2009's $19.8 million loss. Huttig's net sales for the year rose 2.7% to $467.7 million, while gross margin improved by $1.1 million to reach $85.2 million. The company cited a slight increase in new housing activity as the cause behind the sales increase.

The company reported a 10% increase in millwork sales to $224.4 million during the year, while building products sales decreased 7% to $193.7 million. The company's wood products segment also fared well, with sales finishing at $49.6 million, a 20% increase over 2009.. The wood products sales increase was driven by a 5% increase in sales of engineered wood products and a 24% increase in the sales of all other wood products during the year, Huttig said.

Huttig distributes its products through 27 wholesale distribution centers serving 41 states. It employs more than 900 people.