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Potlatch returns to a profit in its 4Q

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Timberland management company Potlatch returned to a profit in its fourth quarter as stronger demand for manufactured wood products pushed prices higher.

With the housing market recovery continuing, Potlatch said Tuesday that it expects U.S. lumber demand to climb an additional 10 percent this year. Demand rose 6 percent in 2012 compared with the year before.

The Spokane, Wash., company also anticipates lumber prices increasing from 2012, because inventory is not enough to keep up with growing demand.

Potlatch earned $13.9 million, or 34 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with a loss of $1.5 million, or 4 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts expected earnings of 33 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue rose 30 percent to $143.3 million from $109.9 million. Wall Street forecast $136.4 million in revenue.

Lumber prices increased 23 percent in the quarter, while shipment volumes rose 5 percent as market conditions improved.

For the full year, Potlatch Corp. earned $42.6 million, or $1.05 per share. A year earlier the company earned $40.3 million, or $1 per share.

Annual revenue climbed 6 percent to $525.1 million from $497.4 million.

Shares of Potlatch fell 21 cents to $43.51 in morning trading.