Sales of real estate helped boost Plum Creek Timber Company‘s second quarter profits but low wood prices are continuing to affect its timber operations.

The firm’s profits for April-June rose by 9.4% to US$58m compared with the same period last year. Earnings for the first six months were US$91m on sales of US$591m.

Its manufacturing operations reported a US$4m loss, mainly due to lumber prices being 14% lower than the same period in 2002. MDF prices and sales volumes increased 11% and 6% respectively because of production improvements in the company’s second MDF line.

An expected rise in lumber prices and continued improvements in the MDF business is expected to lead to better results in the third quarter.