"Orders in the first quarter of 2004 were up
8% over orders in the first quarter of 2003"
W. G. (Mickey) Holliman, Chairman and Chief
Furniture Brands International (FBN) announced
record improvements in sales and earnings.
Net sales for the first quarter of 2004 were
$658.5 million, compared with $613.8 million in the first
quarter of 2003, an increase of 7.3%. Net earnings for the first
quarter were $33.2 million as compared to $29.0 million in the
first quarter of last year, an increase of 14.4%.
"We are generally pleased with our financial
results for the first quarter," stated W. G. (Mickey) Holliman,
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Both our sales and net
earnings represented record performance for the company, and all
financial results exceeded budgeted expectations. This positive
year-over-year performance was across substantially all of our
"We are particularly pleased that the upper-end
companies - Thomasville, Drexel Heritage and Henredon - posted
strong results for the first quarter. The upper end of our
industry has been hard-hit over the past three years, and this
improvement in business at those companies is indicative of an
improving economy - which will help each of our operating
companies going forward. Our middle price companies - Broyhill
and Lane - also showed increases over last year, despite much
more difficult comparisons.
"Our balance sheet continues to become stronger
as well," Mr. Holliman continued. "Cash and cash equivalents at
the end of the quarter totaled $98 million versus $72 million at
the end of 2003. This was despite our making a $15 million
pension plan contribution and repurchasing $13 million of our
common stock. Our long-term debt, at about $300 million, remains
at its target level. Starting in the third quarter of this year,
the annual effective interest rate on the long-term debt will
approximate 4% for the next three years."
Mr. Holliman concluded, "Orders in the first
quarter of 2004 were up 8% over orders in the first quarter of
2003, and were consistently strong through the months of
January, February and March. However, it must be remembered that
first quarter orders in 2003 were off nearly 7% from the prior
year, as adverse weather conditions negatively affected the
retail business, and conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq
contributed to an overall soft economic climate. For this
reason, although we have good momentum going into the second
quarter, we do not expect our sales growth to track first
quarter growth rates.
"We currently expect sales growth in the 4-5%
range in the second quarter and diluted earnings per common
share in the $0.44 to $0.48 range. This includes the effect of
approximately $0.04 per diluted common share attributable to the
previously-announced closing of two facilities at Drexel
Heritage. As has been our practice, we will provide an update on
our second quarter expectation in early June."
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