Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Nov. 2, 2012
*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.
Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report.
Lumber: Sharp increases throughout the week in SPF prices caught a lot of buyers off guard. An up-limit move in futures Wednesday, largely due to speculation surrounding Sandy’s aftermath, supported strength in the cash market. Buyers’ need to purchase was much greater than any opposition they had regarding high prices. Availability of #2 in the Southern Pine lumber market tightened significantly. Mills extended order files and often stopped quoting toward the week’s end after raising prices by double digits. Buyers, often caught with scant inventories, shopped harder for needs. Buyers scrambled to cover Coastal species needs, once again propelling prices higher. Mills garnered order files stretching all the way out to the latter half of November, while others pulled out of the market, fearing they were leaving money on the table. A mid-week rally brought the Inland species lumber market to its feet again. Wholesalers reported selling their initial purchases rapidly and buying back in for another round. Light sales but firm prices were reported for Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr. Secondaries reported tight supplies in both Mldg&Btr and Shop grades Activity for Ponderosa Pine Moulding&Btr and Shop remained quiet, and price alone has not moved buyers off the fence. A slight improvement in the Ponderosa Pine Select and Common market was reported, although volumes were still light in comparison to historical standards. Continued steady sales of ESLP boards helped producers maintain prices in spite of increased competition from imported species. Eastern White Pine board producers voiced concerns over log availability after the wet weather from hurricane Sandy soaked the woods and haul roads. Now that major home center stores have placed most of their business for at least the beginning of next year, Western Red Cedar producers now know the volumes they will need to produce in order to cover customers’ needs.
Panels: A brisk sales pace along with OSB mill order files out to December, allowed producers to raise prices again. Markets were more active in the South and Mid Atlantic. Strong sales beginning Wednesday and extending through Thursday in the Southern Pine plywood market led to price increases and stronger order files heading into November. Lead times were solidly into the week of Nov. 19. Sales activity in Western Fir plywood improved on the coattails of lumber and OSB markets, propelling prices higher and pushing order files more solidly into the week of Nov. 19. A Canadian plywood market that started the week on a quiet note came back with a flourish at week’s end. Signs that November might be a better month than October for particleboard sales appeared. In MDF, customers remained on allocation. Mills reported MDF order files out three weeks.
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Trex gets a Q3 sales bump
Composite decking manufacturer Trex Co. reported net sales of $70.8 million for the third fiscal quarter, a 4.2% rise over net sales of $67.9 million for the same quarter in 2011. The company reported a net loss of $14.3 million for the quarter, which ended Sept. 30, compared with a net loss of $0.5 million the prior-year period. Before a one-time charge during the third quarter of 2012 — a $20 million pre-tax increase to its warranty reserve for decking material — net income was $6.2 million.
In a prepared statement, chairman, president and CEO Ronald Kaplan said that warranty claims may continue to be a drag on the company’s earnings. “Although the rate of claims in 2012 has dropped off at a healthy pace — and we expect reductions to continue in subsequent years — it is now apparent that the declines will not be at the rate previously expected,” Kaplan said. “This not only has an impact on this year’s claims rate, but also on the rate of expected future claims.”
Trex is introducing a new line of capped decking, the chief executive said, to build on the trend of “ultra low maintenance products.” The Winchester, Va., manufacturer has also entered the vinyl railing category and is adding a new line of aluminum railing.