Louisiana-Pacific Corp. (LP) reported today that its net loss attributable to LP deepened in the first quarter by $500,000 from the year-earlier period to reach $23 million even though sales rose 1.6% to $331.7 million.

The company's operating loss actually improved to $18.2 million from 2010's $22.7 million loss, but LP recorded a $5.5 million loss on sale or impairment of long-lived assets vs. just a $1.3 million charge last year, and it took a bigger hit on income taxes--$1.8 million in 2011's first quarter compared with just $400,000 a year earlier.

"At the beginning of the year, we felt some optimism in the market but it waned as we finished the quarter," LP chief executive officer said in the Nashville, Tenn.-based company's earnings statement. "LP took advantage of what the market did offer and our perations were able to generate positive adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $10 million despite lower housing starts."

By operating segment, LP reported:

  • The oriented strand board unit more than doubled its operating loss to $9.1 million from $4.5 million even though sales rose 12.3% to $132.1 million and production climbed 14.5% to 760 million square feet (3/8-inch basis). The sales price for OSB was 5% lower in the first quarter that in the year before, LP noted. That price decline was redited with causing a $7 million drop in the operating income, a loss that was partly offset by increased operational efficiencies.
  • The siding group's operating profit jumped 49.4% to $12.7 million on an 18.3% sales increase to $132.1 million. Production of wood-based siding on a 3/8-inch basis rose 8.3% to 221 million square feet. "The increase in sales and related profitability was primarily driven by increased volume in key markets," LP said.
  • Engineered wood products incurred a $5.5 million operating loss, improving from the $6.6 million loss in the January-March 2010 period. Sales slipped by $500,000 to reach $48.3 million. Production of engineered I-joists tumbled 40.9% to 13 million linal foot, while production of laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and laminated strand lumber (LSL) increased 8.2% to 1.6 million cubic feet. "The flat sales in the first quarter were the result of increased prices and LSL volumes which offset lower volumes in LVL and [I-joists]" LP's earnings statement said. "The margin improvement was attributable to better results at the mill that produces LSL."