USG earnings fall 95 percent

USG, a global manufacturer of building materials, posted earnings of $7 million in the third quarter, a 95 percent decrease from earnings of $153 million a year ago. Sales fell 13.3 percent to $1.3 billion from $1.5 billion last year.

"In the near term, we are scaling back operations to reduce costs,” said William Foote, USG chairman and CEO. “Since the market began to decline, we have curtailed or closed 2.6 billion square feet of wallboard manufacturing capacity, closed four L&W Supply locations and eliminated 1,100 hourly and salaried positions.”

Foote said the company is “prepared to make further adjustments to our operations as necessary.”

The company’s North American gypsum operations saw $2 million in losses, swinging from $219 million in earnings last year. The company’s L&W Supply business saw operating income of $22 million down from operating income of $53 million last year. Global operations, including ceilings and interior materials, saw increases, helping partially offset the company’s lower earnings elsewhere.

"We do not expect a quick rebound in the housing market," Foote added. "Market conditions suggest that the housing market will remain weak for the balance of 2007 and at least through 2008.”

USG, based in Chicago, is a manufacturer and distributor of building systems for residential and remodel.