CALHOUN, GA - Mohawk Industries, Inc. /quotes/zigman/234405/quotes/nls/mhk MHK +7.33% today announced 2012 first quarter net earnings of $40 million and diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.58, a 38% increase over last year's first quarter adjusted EPS. Net sales for the first quarter of 2012 were $1.4 billion, increasing 5% as reported and 6% with a constant exchange rate. For the first quarter of 2011, net earnings were $23 million and EPS was $0.34. Excluding restructuring charges for the first quarter of 2011, adjusted net earnings were $29 million and EPS was $0.42.

Commenting on Mohawk Industries' performance, Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum, Chairman and CEO, stated, "Volume increases, price increases, cost reductions and lower interest expense contributed to our earnings growth in the quarter. In March, Standard & Poor's upgraded our credit rating and Moody's elevated our outlook to positive, reducing the interest rate on our notes. In April, we paid our 2012 maturing notes using our bank revolver which has lower interest rates. Our balance sheet remains strong with net debt to adjusted EBITDA at 2.2 times and approximately $500 million available for strategic opportunities, after the payment of the 2012 notes."

Mohawk segment sales grew 1% as we executed price increases that should cover our material cost in the second period. Higher carpet sales in the segment were offset by lower rug sales from deferred customer promotions, inventory reductions in the channel and lower product mix. In residential, we launched our revolutionary SmartStrand Silk collection, the next generation of soft carpet, with the inherent performance, ease of care and unique environmental features that have made SmartStrand successful. In the commercial business, our hospitality and core business improved, but we experienced weakness in our premium products. To provide greater value in commercial, we have introduced new high-end products, extended our SmartStrand brand into commercial applications and utilized new technology for improved pattern definition in hospitality. Productivity increases, improved yields, product re-engineering, process simplification and reduced complexity improved our cost position and service levels.

Dal-Tile segment net sales grew 14% during the quarter through increased residential remodeling and commercial renovation, successful product launches and growth in the Mexican market. Price increases along with energy surcharges are being implemented to recover material and freight costs. Sales grew in all channels, driven by new products featuring Reveal Imaging, larger sizes, realistic wood designs and a premium commercial collection. In Mexico, we opened our Salamanca plant ahead of schedule. Sales in Mexico are growing dramatically due to our expanded offering of product designs, sizes and price points. We lowered manufacturing costs through higher productivity, reduced waste, and improved formulations that increase production speeds and recycled content.

Unilin segment net sales grew 4% as reported and 7% on a local basis supported by growth of laminate flooring and panels. The impact of the European debt situation on our business has been limited by our lower exposure to Southern European markets. We continue to gain share through new products, channels and regions, offsetting the impact of slowing national economies. We have implemented price increases in European laminate, roofing and most panels to recover higher material costs. We are increasing product placements in the home center and DIY channels with both laminate and wood. Our insulation panels business grew significantly and we are preparing to expand in France. Our strategies to expand internationally are progressing with our new Russian plant increasing production and our Australian distribution being integrated with Unilin.

Low mortgage rates, increasing home sales, and higher employment should sustain industry growth. Our emphasis on product and process innovation, cost management and flexibility has resulted in a stronger company. In the second quarter, we anticipate continued sales growth and improving margins as selling prices align with material inflation. We believe that our new product launches will improve profitability and sales growth. Improvements in productivity, inventory management, and interest expenses will favorably impact our results. With these factors, our guidance for second quarter earnings is $1.07 to $1.16 per share, excluding any restructuring costs. Our recent investments in new markets, technology, production capacity and R&D will improve our results. We have a strong financial position to pursue new strategic opportunities.

Mohawk is a leading supplier of flooring for both residential and commercial applications. Mohawk provides a complete selection for all markets of carpet, ceramic tile, laminate, wood, stone, vinyl, and rugs. These products are marketed under the premier brands in the industry including Mohawk, Karastan, Lees, Bigelow, Durkan, Daltile, American Olean, Unilin and Quick-Step. Mohawk's unique merchandising and marketing assists the consumer in creating exquisite floors to fulfill their dreams. Mohawk provides a premium level of service with its own trucking fleet and local distribution in the U.S. Mohawk's international presence includes operations in Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Malaysia, Mexico and Russia.

Source: Mohawk Industries Inc.

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