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Quebec-based Canam Group Inc. says its sales and profit fell sharply in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, but the order backlog improved.

The Montreal-area construction products maker says its profit was $5-million or 11 cents per share in the three months ended Dec. 31.

That's down 63.5 per cent from $13.7-million or 29 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2008.

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Sales for the quarter fell by 35 per cent to $149.7-million, from $230.9-million a year earlier.

Canam's president attributed the lower sales to a North American construction slowdown and lower prices for raw materials.

In a sign that conditions are improving, Canam's order backlog at the end of December totalled $460-million, up from $444-million at the end of 2008.

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