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Furniture Brands International Reports Record Sales
04-29-04
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"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 Executive Officer

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 operating companies.

"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.

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"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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