CARTHAGE, Mo., April 28, 2011 - Diversified furnishings manufacturer Leggett & Platt reported first quarter earnings per diluted share of $.30. In the first quarter of 2010, earnings from Continuing Operations were also $.30 per share. First quarter 2011 earnings benefited from higher unit volumes, but this benefit was offset by higher-cost raw materials.
First quarter 2011 sales were $896 million, a 10% (or $80 million) increase versus the prior year. Same location sales grew 10%, primarily from unit volume growth in the Specialized Products and Industrial Materials segments. Inflation contributed 4% to sales.
President and CEO David S. Haffner commented, "We are very encouraged to see higher market demand and sales growth during the first quarter. That growth enhanced earnings, but was offset by higher raw material costs, as previously anticipated. We implemented price increases during the quarter in response to cost inflation; as a result, we expect improved margins in subsequent quarters.
"We are moving into the third step of the three-part strategic plan we announced in November 2007, given our successful completion of the first step (divest low-performing businesses) and significant progress in the second step (improve margins and returns). The third step envisions growth of 4-5% per year, on average. For the next couple of years we expect market recovery to provide growth in excess of our target; earnings should improve meaningfully as a result of our operating leverage and spare production capacity. Longer term, we expect growth to come from commercialization of innovative new products, expansion into potential new growth areas, and normal GDP-like growth in our existing markets.
"During the first quarter we were more aggressive with our stock repurchases, buying back 5.4 million shares. We believe the economy is gradually recovering, and our end markets appear more stable. Accordingly, we are more willing to repurchase shares, and to let leverage gradually move toward our target range. As has been our practice since late 2007, we prioritize use of cash as follows: first, for capital needs and dividends; second, for growth projects and acquisitions, when high-quality opportunities arise; and third, for stock repurchases.
"We continue to assess our overall performance by comparing our Total Shareholder Return (TSR(1)) to that of peer companies on a rolling three-year basis. For the three-year period that began January 1, 2009, we have so far (over the last 28 months) generated TSR of 29% per year on average, while the S&P 500 index generated average TSR of 22% per year. Accordingly, our 2009-2011 TSR ranks among the top half of the companies in the S&P 500 index.
"While achieving these results, we have maintained our strong financial base. We ended the quarter with net debt to net capital below our long-term target range, and over $450 million available under our existing commercial paper program and revolver facility."
Dividends and Stock Repurchases
Leggett & Platt's Board of Directors declared a $.27 first quarter dividend, one cent higher than last year's first quarter dividend. Thus, 2011 marks the 40th consecutive annual dividend increase for the company, with a compound annual growth rate of 14%. At yesterday's closing share price of $24.18, the indicated annual dividend of $1.08 per share generates a dividend yield of 4.5%.
During the first quarter, the company repurchased 5.4 million shares of its stock at an average price of $23.29 per share, and issued 1.8 million shares through employee benefit and stock purchase plans. As a result, the number of shares outstanding decreased to 142.6 million.
Over the last three years Leggett & Platt significantly reduced its fixed cost structure, but purposely retained spare production capacity. Accordingly, sales can rebound to over $4 billion without the need for large capital investment. As a result, the company has meaningful operating leverage that should significantly benefit future earnings as market demand rebounds.
Leggett & Platt anticipates 2011 sales of approximately $3.5-3.8 billion, an increase of 4% to 13% versus 2010, including expected inflation of approximately 4%. Based upon that sales expectation, the company projects 2011 EPS of $1.25 - 1.50.
For over 20 years the company has generated operating cash in excess of the amount needed to fund dividends and capital expenditures. That should again be true this year, as cash from operations is expected to exceed $300 million for 2011. Capital expenditures should be approximately $85 million this year, and dividend payments should approximate $155 million.
For the full year, the company anticipates repurchasing up to 10 million shares of its stock and issuing approximately 3 million shares (primarily for employee benefit and stock purchase plans). The company has standing authorization from the Board of Directors to repurchase up to 10 million shares each year, but has established no specific repurchase commitment or timetable.
All of Leggett's segments use the FIFO (first-in, first-out) method for valuing inventories. An adjustment is made at the corporate level to convert about 60% of the inventories to the LIFO (last-in, first-out) method. Steel cost increases contributed to a LIFO expense of $15 million for the full year 2010 (for Continuing Operations). For 2011, the company expects LIFO expense of $22 million.
SEGMENT RESULTS – First Quarter 2011 (versus 1Q 2010)
Residential Furnishings – Total sales increased $25 million, or 6%; inflation accounted for the bulk of the sales increase. EBIT (earnings before interest and income taxes) decreased $7 million due to higher raw material costs and a reduction in the amount of income from building sales.
Commercial Fixturing & Components – Total sales decreased $13 million, or 9%. EBIT increased slightly, with a gain from sale of a building largely offset by the effect of lower sales.
Industrial Materials – Total sales increased $33 million, or 19%; unit volume grew 7% and inflation added 12% to sales. EBIT improved slightly, with the impact of higher volume largely offset by increased raw material costs.
Specialized Products – Total sales increased $38 million, or 28%, from unit volume growth in all three sectors of the segment. EBIT increased $10 million, primarily due to higher volumes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit Leggett's website at www.leggett.com.
COMPANY DESCRIPTION: Leggett & Platt (NYSE: LEG) is a diversified manufacturer (and member of the S&P 500) that conceives, designs and produces a broad variety of engineered components and products that can be found in most homes, offices, and automobiles. The company serves a broad suite of customers that comprise a "Who's Who" of U.S. manufacturers and retailers. The 128-year-old firm is comprised of 19 business units, 19,000 employee-partners, and 140 manufacturing facilities located in 18 countries.
Leggett & Platt is the leading U.S. manufacturer of: a) components for residential furniture and bedding; b) office furniture components; c) drawn steel wire; d) automotive seat support and lumbar systems; e) carpet underlay; f) power foundations; g) bedding industry machinery.
(1) TSR = (Change in Stock Price + Dividends Received) / Beginning Stock Price; assumes dividends are reinvested
SOURCE Leggett & Platt
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