Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) has posted a US$117m annual loss from continuing operations.

LP chief executive officer Rick Frost admitted he was glad to see the back of 2009, but pointed out that all divisions improved their performance during the year despite a 39% drop in US housing starts.

The losses narrowed considerably from the US$565m loss recorded in 2008, while fourth quarter losses were down to US$47m (2008: US$339m loss).

Net sales for 2009 totalled US$1.5bn (2008: US$1.37bn).

The OSB division experienced a US$17m operating loss in the fourth quarter (2008: US$31m loss), when sales volumes were up by 16% but prices down by 5%. LP decided to close permanently two previously curtailed mills at the year-end.

The engineered wood division, comprising I-joists, LVL and LSL, recorded operating losses of US$9m in the fourth quarter (2008: US$12m).

But LP’s siding division, comprising finished and unfinished timber cladding, achieved an operating profit of US$5m (2008: US$11m loss), with increased penetration in the repair, maintenance and improvement markets.

“The consensus view is that the housing market in 2010 will be better than last year although there is much debate about the pace and magnitude of the recovery,” said Rick Frost.

He said LP was demonstrating the flexibility to improve results in a declining market.