Weyerhaeuser Company (NYSE:WY) reported its first-quarter earnings today, and it saw its net earnings increase 27% from $144 million to $183 million, or $0.31 per diluted share.

The company noted it recognized $30 million in after-tax gains from one-time special items, and excluding those, its earnings per share stood at $0.26, identical to what it reported in the first quarter of 2013. This topped the $0.24 earnings per share expected by analysts.  

Weyerhaeuser, a real estate investment trust, is one of the world's largest private owners of timberlands. It owns or controls nearly 7 million acres of timberlands, primarily in the U.S., and manages another 14 million acres under long-term licenses in Canada.

Q1 sales at Weyerhaeuser rose by almost 2%, or $33 million, to $2.0 billion when compared to the first quarter of 2013. However sales fell by 12%, or $272 million, from the fourth quarter as a result of a $240 million drop in sales from its real estate business unit. The company noted it expects earnings from its real estate business to increase in the second quarter as a result of higher single-family home construction.

Despite lower sales, the wood products business at Weyerhaeuser -- its largest -- saw its pre-tax earnings increase 10% to $64 million. The company noted it expects significantly higher earnings from the business in the second quarter as a result of higher sales volumes and higher prices. It also expects higher profits from its Cellulose Fibers business -- which saw earnings fall from $65 million in the fourth quarter to $54 million in the first quarter -- to rise significantly in the second quarter.

"Despite unusually severe winter weather, we delivered strong operating results in the quarter," noted Weyerhaeuser CEO and President Doyle Simons in the earnings release. "Our Timberlands business is realizing increasing benefits from the Longview Timber acquisition and reported its highest quarterly earnings excluding land sales since 2006. We are relentlessly focused on driving operational excellence in each of our businesses to grow a truly great company."

Patrick Morris has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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