Timberland management company Potlatch Corp. reported an unexpected loss during the fourth quarter, as weak demand for wood products in the southern U.S. dragged down prices and revenue.

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Timberland management company Potlatch Corp. reported an unexpected loss during the fourth quarter, as weak demand for wood products in the southern U.S. dragged down prices and revenue.

The company said Tuesday that it lost 4 cents a share during the quarter ended Dec. 31. That surprised Wall Street analysts, who were expecting net income of 12 cents per share, according to FactSet.

The company’s stock dropped $1.30, or 4 percent, to $31.70 in morning trading.

Potlatch did not provide specific earnings expectations for 2012, but the company said it remains “cautious and conservative” in the face of a struggling construction industry that will likely depress demand for lumber, plywood and other building materials.

The company said it plans to cut its 2012 timber harvest to about 3.5 million tons, down 17 percent from 2011. Potlach said it doesn’t expect to make any major real estate deals for timberland, although it might sell a few parcels it considers “nonstrategic.”

Potlach is a real estate investment trust that owns and manages wooded properties. The company sells timber on the wholesale market for use in construction, so its revenue has been hit by the housing crisis.

The company said that during the quarter ended Dec. 31, it had a net loss of $1.5 million, or 4 cents per share, compared with net income of $9.4 million, or 23 cents per share, during the same period the year before.

Revenue during the quarter was $109.9 million, down from $146.2 million during the same period last year.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 12 cents per share on $117.3 million in revenue during the quarter.

For the full year, Potlach said its net income was $40.3 million, or $1 per share, compared with $40.4 million, or $1 per share, during the same period the year before. The company said adjusted income from continuing operations was also $1 per share.

Revenue for the year was $497.4 million, down from $539.4 million the year before.

Analysts had been expecting adjusted net income of $1.16 per share on revenue of $504.9 million for the year.