A 15.8% increase in net sales to $301.7 million helped Ply Gem Holdings Inc. trim its net loss in the second quarter ended July 3 to just $409,000 from an $8 million loss in the year-earlier period, the maker of residential exterior building products reported today. Operating earnings climbed 38.8% to $30.3 million.

Cary, N.C.-based Ply Gem prefers to view its results using adjusted EBITDA--earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, non-cash foreign currency gain or loss, customer inventory buybacks, restructuring and integration costs, and gain on extinguishment of debt. By that measure, adjusted EBITDA rose to $46.2 million from $41.5 million in the second quarter ended July 4, 2009. The major differences between the net loss and the positive adjusted EBITDA were $30.2 million worth of interest expenses and $15.7 million in depreciation and amortization costs.

The results "demonstrate significant improvement over the same periods in 2009 and reflect our continued trend of positive year-over-year earnings performance," president and CEO Gary E. Robinette said. "However, the housing market in the first half of 2010 was stimulated by the federal home buyer tax credit program which expired on April 30. Not surprisingly, there have been signs of weakness in the later part of the second quarter as the tax credit program expired and the exact health of the U.S. housing market is a concern for the second half of 2010. As such, Ply Gem will continue its focus on maintaining a lean overall cost structure while maximizing cash flow and striving to outperform the marketplace in all business units, which will ensure that Ply Gem emerges stronger as the housing market recovers."

Ply Gem produces vinyl siding, designer accents and skirting, vinyl and composite fencing and railing, stone veneer, and vinyl windows and doors. The company's financial report didn't break down sales or profits by product group.