Wood-based panels giant Pfleiderer AG has posted a first-quarter pre-tax loss of €6.1m (2009: €23m profit).

The group recorded sales of €355.6m (2009: €358m), while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were €22.2m.

Pfleiderer said average selling price levels were lower than a year ago, but this was compensated for by a 2% increase in volumes.

“Increasing demand and better capacity utilisation thanks to adjustments within the engineered-wood industry led to the price of 1m³ of raw particleboard rising from its low of approximately €90 in summer 2009 to around €135 for new orders placed in April 2010,” it said.

Raw material price increases (wood and chemicals) impacted the result by €23m. Timber prices rose 10-30% year-on-year, while chemicals grew by 10%.

Pfleiderer predicted revenue would continue to grow but operating profit is likely to remain unsatisfactory in 2010, with the group “probably” reporting a loss for the full year.

“As of 2011, the group should return to positive earnings as a result of better prices, a revival of demand and lower interest expenses,” it said.

The group recently recorded a 2009 pre-tax loss of €64.9m.