Insteel Industries Inc swung to a third-quarter loss, hurt by an inventory write-down and a drop in shipments and average selling prices, but said it expects wire rod prices to rebound going ahead.

However, the company expects business conditions to remain challenging for the rest of 2009.

For the quarter ended June 27, the steel maker reported a net loss of $1.7 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with a profit of $16.9 million, or 97 cents a share, a year earlier.

The quarter's net loss included a charge of 10 cents a share related to an inventory write-down.

Net sales at the Mount Airy, North Carolina-based company fell 45 percent to $57 million.

Analysts were expecting a loss, before special items, of 2 cents a share, on revenue of $54.2 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

While shipments at Insteel slid 29 percent, average selling prices fell 23 percent.

Insteel shares, which have lost nearly 58 percent of their value in the last 12 months, closed at $8.72 Wednesday on Nasdaq. For the alerts, double-click [ID:nWNAB7847] (Reporting by Shradhha Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)