MONTRÉAL - Resolute Forest Products Inc. (NYSE: RFP) (TSX: RFP) reported a net loss of C$47 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, up almost six-fold compared to a net loss of C$8 million in the same period in 2016. Sales were C$872 million in the quarter, down $5 million, or 1 percent, from the first quarter of 2016.
"While we continued to face strong headwinds in our paper businesses this quarter, our three other segments (pulp, tissue and wood products) recorded stronger results than in the fourth quarter. We saw key achievements in the quarter," said Richard Garneau, CEO. "Those achievements were overshadowed by the imposition of countervailing duties on our softwood lumber exports from Canada to the United States. We firmly believe that central Canadian forestry regimes are market-based and we should expect nothing less than unencumbered and free access to the U.S. lumber market."
The wood products segment recorded operating income of $20 million for the quarter, an improvement of $3 million against the previous quarter. Shipments rose, reaching 505 million board feet, despite adverse weather conditions causing logistical challenges during the quarter. Supported by better U.S. housing starts and market expectations on softwood lumber duties, the average transaction price rose by $23 per thousand board feet to $350. The delivered cost increased to $310 per thousand board feet, resulting from higher log costs and production curtailments. EBITDA for the segment was $29 million, a $4 million increase compared to the previous quarter and equivalent to $57 per thousand board feet, an increase of $7 per thousand board feet. Finished goods inventory rose by 19% to 147 million board feet, mostly as a result of this year's challenging winter conditions and market volatility caused by the anticipated U.S. trade barriers.