VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. has reported earnings of $67 million on sales of $863 million in the first quarter of 2013. In the quarter, lumber operations generated operating earnings of $122 million and EBITDA of $146 million.

The improvement over the prior quarter reflects improved prices for SPF and SYP lumber. The panel segment, which includes plywood, LVL and MDF, generated $14 million of operating earnings and EBITDA of $18 million in the quarter, reflecting higher plywood prices. Pulp and paper operations generated an operating loss of $4 million in the quarter and EBITDA of $8 million. The decline from the prior quarter occurred despite the increase in pulp prices as the results were adversely affected by production issues at its NBSK mills.

Both SPF and SYP lumber prices steadily improved throughout the quarter as the spring building season gets underway. B.C. and Alberta stumpage costs are set to increase in the next quarter but lumber productivity and cost improvements are expected to 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," CEO Ted Seraphim said. "Our outlook remains cautiously optimistic for all our building products."

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