Tough first quarter for Universal Forest Products

Universal Forest Products reported sales of $489.5 million for its first quarter of 2008, down from $549 million during the same quarter of 2007. The company lost $4.6 million in the quarter, which ended on March 29, compared to net earnings of $3.9 million in the same period last year.

The results reflected declines in housing starts, consumer spending and lumber prices, the company said in a prepared statement.

Site-built construction sales decreased 21.3 percent from 2007, and revenues gained from the retail channel slid by 11.7 percent year over year. The one bright spot -- sales of industrial packaging such as crates -- increased 5.1 percent. Universal said it expects to gain additional market share in the industrial business. The company also anticipates growth in its concrete forming business, it said.

Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., Universal Forest Products makes trusses, joists and other engineered wood products, composite decking, pressure treated lumber and other products at approximately 100 locations throughout North America.