February 19, 2009 / 10:27 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 1-West Fraser Timber loss widens in quarter

* Q4 loss C$1.63/share vs C$0.07/share * Records exchange loss of C$46.1 million * Revenues C$746 million vs C$782 million (Adds details)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb 19 (Reuters) - A currency translation loss on debt helped push West Fraser Timber Co WFT.TO deeper into red ink on Thursday as it continued to struggled with anemic lumber markets.

Canada’s largest softwood lumber producer said it lost C$70 million, or C$1.63 per share, on sales of C$746 million in the fourth quarter.

That compared with a loss of C$3 million, or 7 Canadian cents per share, on sales of C$782 million, in the same quarter of 2007, the company said.

West Fraser said it recorded an exchange loss of C$46.1 million on its U.S. dollar denominated long-term debt, compared with a gain of C$1 million a year earlier, when it also benefited from a higher recovery on income taxes.

The operating loss was C$64 million, the same as a year earlier.

The company struggled with the weak U.S. housing construction market and a sharp downturn in global pulp markets in the quarter, making 2008 the worst financial year in its history, Chief Executive Hank Ketcham said.

Lumber prices have continued to decline this year, it said.

West Fraser has idled several sawmills in the face of weak lumber sales and Ketcham used the company’s statement to apologize to employees and local communities for the disruption that has caused.

$1=$1.26 Canadian Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson

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