UPDATE 1-Weyerhaeuser expects higher sales as U.S. housing rebounds
* Net earnings $144 mln vs $41 mln a year earlier
* Earnings/share $0.26 vs $0.08
* Revenue up 31 pct to $1.95 bln
April 26 (Reuters) - Forest products company Weyerhaeuser Co reported a first-quarter net profit that more than tripled due to a recovery in the U.S. housing market, and said it expects higher volumes for all its wood products for the current quarter.
Ground-breaking to build new homes in the United States rose in March to the highest level since June 2008, adding to evidence of a healthier housing market.
"Our wood products business reported its strongest quarterly earnings since 2005...," Chief Executive Dan Fulton said.
Reflecting the rebound in business, Weyerhaeuser raised its quarterly dividend by 18 percent to 20 cents per share earlier this month.
However, the company forecast slightly lower average selling prices for lumber and oriented-strand board for the second quarter. It also expects higher raw material costs.
The company's net profit rose to $144 million, or 26 cents per share, in the first quarter from $41 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier.
Revenue jumped 31 percent to $1.95 billion.
Weyerhaeuser's shares closed at $31.38 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. They rose more than 10 percent in the first quarter, slightly outpacing the Dow Jones U.S. home construction index.
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