West Fraser misses first quarter analyst expectations as earnings plunge

VANCOUVER — West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. says earnings dropped significantly in the last quarter as the company felt the impact of lower production and demand.The company says it lost $5 million or seven cents per share in the quarter ending March 31, compared with earnings of $197 million or $2.53 per share for the same period last year.Adjusted earnings were $22 million or 32 cents per share for the quarter, compared with $229 million or $2.96 a share for the first quarter last year.Analysts had expected adjusted earnings $36.3 million or 56 cents per share according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.The company says earnings were hit by lower demand in the key spruce-pine-fir sector as U.S. housing starts lagged because of wet weather across major construction markets.B.C. producers including West Fraser have announced several rounds of production curtailments as they grapple with limited wood fibre supply in the province and depressed demand. Companies in this story: (TSX:WFT)The Canadian Press read more

Annan calls on both Palestinians and Israelis to take measures to defuse

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Annan cited the continued detention of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants; the killing by Palestinian militants of an Israeli civilian; further rocket attacks against Israel; and Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip which have resulted in a serious deterioration in humanitarian conditions.“He is also concerned that Israel has detained 64 Palestinian officials, cabinet ministers and members of the Legislative Council, who were elected in January,” the statement said.“The Secretary-General calls on the Palestinian Authority to do its utmost to secure the release of the Israeli soldier, and to end rocket attacks against Israel and other action by militants,” it added.The Government of Israel was called on “to show restraint, to avoid actions that damages civilian infrastructure and that aggravates the hardship of the Palestinian population, and to abide by international humanitarian law.”In order to prevent a further decline in the humanitarian situation, the Secretary-General said “Israel should also act urgently to facilitate the import of essential medical supplies, food stuffs, and particularly fuel into the Gaza Strip.”The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been assessing the situation in the Gaza Strip, where it says that nearly half the population is currently without electricity.The problem could persist for up to nine months, OCHA said, noting that the reduced capacity is affecting the provision of water, with daily access for families being cut by up to 50 per cent in some parts of the Gaza Strip.The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has stepped up its activities in pre-positioning food and other supplies in parts of Gaza so that it can offer assistance to people in need, while the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) have also been increasing food aid. read more