10/28/2013 05:10 EDT | Updated 12/28/2013 05:12 EST

West Fraser Timber reports third-quarter sales and profit up from year ago

VANCOUVER - West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (TSX:WFT) said Monday it earned $55 million in its latest quarter, as sales improved compared with a year ago.

The forestry company said the profit amounted to $1.29 per share on sales of $878 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30. That compared with a profit of $52 million or $1.21 per share on sales of $772 million a year ago.

Though the results for what was the company's third quarter were up compared with a year ago, they were down from the second quarter when it earned $109 million or $2.54 per share on $900 million in sales.

"Our third-quarter results reflect lower lumber prices offset somewhat by improved pulp prices compared to the previous quarter," West Fraser president and chief executive Ted Seraphim said in a statement.

West Fraser reported adjusted earnings of $68 million or $1.57 per share for the latest quarter compared with $52 million or $1.21 per share a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.35 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

The company said its lumber operations generated operating earnings of $57 million in the quarter compared with $36 million a year ago, while its panels business earned an operating profit of $6 million, down from $23 million a year ago.

West Fraser's pulp and paper business earned an operating profit of $29 million, up from $17 million in the third quarter of 2012.

Last week, West Fraser announced a plan to close its mill in Houston, B.C., that will affect about 225 workers.

The closure is part of a larger plan including a timber tenure swap with Canfor to help provide some security to its mills in Quesnel, Smithers and Fraser Lake, B.C.