Potlatch Corp.'s wood products division announced today that it posted a $3.4 million operating loss for the fourth quarter 2010. The loss is a $1.4 million improvement over the fourth quarter 2009's $4.8 million operating loss, but also a step backwards from the $600,000 loss the division posted during third quarter 2010.

The operating loss included a negative $2.9 million hit to market adjustment related to the company's lumber hedges that will be settled sometime between February and September of this year.

The Spokane, Wash.-based company cited a rise in lumber sales prices as well as shipment volumes as the reasons for improvements. Lumber sales prices increased 11% and shipment volumes increased 9% between fourth quarter 2010 and fourth quarter 2009.

For the full year 2010, the division also posted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, depletion, and amortization (EBITDDA) of $15.3 million. The earnings were an improvement over 2009, when the company posted and EBITDDA loss of $10.8 million.

The division also posted a $7.1 million operating income for the fiscal year 2010. The income is a vast improvement over the $20.5 million operating loss the division posted during the year prior.

Overall, Potlatch posted earnings from continuing operations of $8.9 million during the fourth quarter, a $6 million improvement from fourth quarter 2009.

For the full year were $40.3 million, which was a $41.3 million decrease from 2009's earnings. Net earnings for 2010, including discontinued operations, were $40.4 million, compared to $77.3 million in 2009.

"Although economic conditions in 2010 did not improve as we had anticipated at the beginning of the year, we are pleased with our overall performance," said Potlatch chairman, president and CEO Michael Covey. "Our outlook for 2011 remains somewhat cautious and conservative."