October 27, 2008 / 9:13 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-West Fraser loss slims but tough times persist

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct 27 (Reuters) - A weaker Canadian dollar helped forest-products company West Fraser Timber Co (WFT.TO) post a smaller third-quarter loss on Monday, but it warned the industry’s hard times are not over.

The company, which has mills in Western Canada and southeastern United States, said it lost C$2 million ($1.55 million), or 5 Canadian cents a share, on sales of C$848 million in the quarter. That compared with a loss of C$12 million, or 28 Canadian cents a share, on sales of C$827 million a year earlier.

Weak North American lumber and panel markets again hit the company, although earnings for its pulp and paper operations were boosted by higher prices.

The weaker Canadian dollar did help West Fraser’s operations in British Columbia and Alberta, but it said the global financial crisis has added to the negative outlook for its markets in general.

Prices for Canadian softwood were higher in the first part of the quarter on curtailed overall industry production, but they were sliding down again as the quarter came to an end and some idled sawmills were restarted. ($1=$1.29 Canadian) (Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Peter Galloway)

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