04/25/2013 05:28 EDT | Updated 06/25/2013 05:12 EDT

West Fraser Timber swing to Q1 profit of $67M; revenue rises to $863M

VANCOUVER - West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (TSX:WFT) swung to a profit in the first quarter as the forestry company reported improved lumber prices.

The company said Thursday it earned $67 million or $1.57 per share on sales of $863 million in the first quarter of 2013. That compared with a loss of $19 million or 45 cents per share on revenue of $681 million.

West Fraser said its lumber operations generated operating earnings of $122 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization or EBITDA of $146 million in the quarter.

"The improvement over the prior quarter reflects improved prices for SPF (spruce, pine and fir) and SYP (southern yellow pine) lumber," the company said in its earnings release.

It said the outlook for both SPF and SYP lumber prices steadily improved throughout the quarter heading into the spring building season.

And while B.C. and Alberta stumpage costs are set to increase in the next quarter, West Fraser said it expects lumber productivity and cost improvements to also continue to improve over the next few quarters "as we complete various major capital projects."

"We've been encouraged by the recovery of the U.S. housing market over the last few quarters," president and CEO Ted Seraphim said.

"Our outlook remains cautiously optimistic for all our building products."

West Fraser produces lumber, wood chips, plywood, pulp and newsprint with operations in Western Canada and the Southern U.S.