Several Nordic timber companies are reporting an improving, albeit still difficult, situation after posting first quarter results. But Södra has announced an extended shutdown to balance output with demand.

Setra recorded a SKr27m operating loss for the first quarter, an improvement from the SKr48m loss posted a year ago. Net sales were stable at SKr1.065bn (2011: SKr1.1bn).

Setra president and CEO Börje Bengtsson also reported a “favourable” order situation.

“Volumes are increasing, market prices are slowly rising and raw material prices have stabilised at a slightly lower level,” he said.

Moelven’s first-quarter results show operating profits of NKr19m compared with losses of NKr26m in 2011. Sales in the period grew by NKr212m to NKr2.1bn as a result of higher activity levels.

CEO Hans Rindal said the company’s building systems project division contributed to most of the profits, while Moelven’s sawmills were still operating with low margins.

Moelven expects no imminent increases in demand for industrial wood in Europe. However, it sees positive signs from other areas such as the Middle East, North Africa and the US.

UPM’s forest and timber division recorded €2m operating profits (2010: €2m), while sales grew 8% to €426m. Sawn timber deliveries rose 20% to 426,000m³ compared to a year ago.

The plywood division’s operating profits stayed at €1m, with sales up €2m to €96m and deliveries rising 5% to 170,000m³.

Vapo Timber’s first-quarter operating loss increased from €700,000 last year to €2.9m this year, largely because of a 5% drop in timber prices and a 2% rise in raw material costs. Turnover fell from €30.4m to €27m.

Metsä Wood recorded €4m in operating profits in the first quarter and believes profitability will strengthen in the second. It said the building trade was expected to recover due to normal seasonal growth. Sales totalled €222m for the first period.

However, Södra Timber is extending its summer shutdown by two months after predicting no improvements in construction markets until 2013.

The planned holiday downtime at its Ramkvilla and Torsås sawmills will be extended as an initial measure. Production will stop between June 4-August 27. The Långasjö mill will also move from three to two shifts for the same period.

Södra Timber president Peter Nilsson said the mills have had a “fairly long period of no profitability”.

“We have to create a balance between production and demand to get ourselves back in a reasonable situation,” he said.