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West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. says it had a challenging fourth quarter as it grappled with falling prices, difficult weather conditions, production curtailments and unplanned downtime.

The Vancouver-based company says the combined effects led to earnings of $29-million or 42 cents per share for the quarter ending Dec. 31, compared with earnings of $238-million of $3.25 per share for the same quarter a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings came in at $43-million or 63 cents per share, well below analyst expectations of $101.2-million or $1.40 per share according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

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The company says benchmark prices for spruce, pine, and fir lumber dropped by 32 per cent in the fourth quarter, but that the lumber market has started to recover in the first weeks of 2019.

Softwood lumber prices had a dramatic run-up last year to peak at record highs in early summer, before plummeting back down by fall on concerns on overpricing and a potential slowing of the U.S. housing market.

West Fraser reported full-year adjusted earnings of $945-million or $12.70 per share, up from $659-million or $8.44 per share for 2017.

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