April 24, 2009 / 9:41 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 1-West Fraser posts bigger net loss on weak markets

* Loss C$1.94/shr vs loss C$1.60 a year earlier

* Sales C$619 million vs C$772 million

* Shares up C$1.11 at C$26.86, results released after close (Adds details)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 24 (Reuters) - West Fraser Timber Co Ltd (WFT.TO), North America’s biggest softwood lumber producer, reported a 20 percent bigger quarterly loss on Friday and said markets for nearly all its products were weaker.

The company cautioned that tough conditions will continue through the second quarter, with the added impact of scheduled maintenance downtime at its Kitimat and Cariboo facilities in British Columbia.

Low prices and weak demand hit its lumber, panel, and pulp and paper operations, the company said.

“Although we have seen an improvement from extremely low lumber prices, it is too early to talk about a recovery,” Chief Executive Hank Ketcham said in a statement.

The company said it had a net loss of C$83 million ($68.6 million), or C$1.94 per diluted share, on sales of C$619 million in the quarter. That compared with a loss of C$69 million, or C$1.60 a share, on C$772 million in sales in the same three-month period a year earlier.

The results included a C$13 million pretax loss on the currency translation on its U.S. dollar denominated debt, and a C$5 million pretax loss on foreign currency contracts. There were also tax-related items

West Fraser, which has operations in both Western Canada and the Southeastern United States, said its operating loss was C$90 million, compared with C$103 million a year earlier.

West Fraser and other North American forestry companies have been slogging through red ink since the U.S. housing construction market collapsed, but Ketcham said the company’s liquidity position remained good.

$1=$1.21 Canadian Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Peter Galloway

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