USG, a leading building products company, announced an increase in earnings for the second quarter due to record shipments of its wallboard.

The Chicago-based firm reported an earnings increase of 60 percent from $110 million to $176 million in its second quarter profit from a year ago. Its earnings per share (EPS) rose 55 percent from $1.96 to $3.03.

Net sales for the first half of 2006 were $3.0 billion versus $2.5 billion for the same period in 2005. This was a rise of 20 percent.

United States Gypsum Company, the biggest division within the firm, recorded a second quarter net sales figure of $878 million and an operating profit of $242 million, increases of $158 million and $117 million, respectively.

Gypsum's strong performance during the quarter was primarily attributable to higher Brand gypsumselling prices and record shipments of the company's Sheetrock wallboard.

The strong results were partially offset by higher costs, including higher energy and raw material prices.

In 2001, USG Corporation and its major domestic subsidiaries filed petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code after being sued for asbestos related damages.

Earlier this year, USG emerged out from its Chapter 11 protection after arriving at conclusions with various parties, including an agreement for repayment with its creditors and compensation awarded to individuals injured by asbestos. Under the deal, a fund would be established to pay for court damages while all creditors would be repaid with full interest.