Masonite International Inc. has announced that it achieved first-quarter sales of $334.1 million for 2009, a 28.1-percent drop from first-quarter 2008, during which it achieved sales of $464.4 million.”We continue to be impacted by weak market conditions in most of our regions, which has had a significant impact on our top line,” says Fred Lynch, president and chief executive officer of Masonite. “Thanks to our continuing efforts to right-size the business in light of market conditions and driving cost productivity in manufacturing and business overheads, the EBITDA and cash flow performance was better than the internal quarterly projections used in the formulation of our recently published five year projections.”

Operating EBITDA decreased 79.4 percent to $9.6 million from $46.7 million in the first quarter of 2008. Sales to external customers from facilities in North America decreased 24.3 percent to $223.1 million in the first quarter of 2009 from $294.8 million in the first quarter of 2008. Sales decreased 20.8 percent in North America, excluding the impact of unfavorable foreign exchange movements.

Sales to external customers from facilities outside of North America, primarily in Western Europe, decreased approximately to $111.0 million in the first quarter of 2009 from $169.6 million in the prior year period. Unfavorable foreign currency movements negatively impacted comparative consolidated sales by $10.5 million in North America and $25.7 million in rest of world. Excluding the unfavorable exchange impact, sales in our Europe and other segments decreased 19.4 percent, compared with the prior year period. The company attributes this drop to deteriorating market conditions, most significantly in Western Europe, and to a somewhat lesser degree in Eastern Europe.

Operating EBITDA in the first quarter of 2009 decreased to $9.6 million from $46.7 million in the prior year. Masonite officials cite a lower sales volumes and carryover input cost inflation from the prior year that were not fully offset by savings from plant closures, price increases and a reduction in selling, general and administration expenses versus the prior year as reasons for the EBITA drop.

In the first quarter of 2009, cash flow after changes in operating working capital and capital expenditure for Masonite was $6.6 million compared to $19.1 million in the prior year. In the current year, changes in working capital were a source of $5.8 million versus a use of $21.0 million in the prior year.

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