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Larry Thomas

Leggett & Platt profit jumps 46.5% on 4.4% sales gain

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Leggett & Platt, a producer of furniture and bedding components, said third-quarter profits jumped 46.5% as the company recorded higher unit volumes in all of its business segments.

Worldwide sales rose 4.4%, a figure that included a 2% rise in sales in its largest business segment, residential furnishings.

Net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30 was $65.8 million or 45 cents per share. That was up from $44.9 million or 31 cents per share in last year's third quarter.

Worldwide sales totaled $982.2 million, up from $940.9 million in the same quarter last year. Of that total, external sales in the residential furnishings segment were $479.7 million, up from $470.2 million in last year's third quarter.

David Haffner, president and CEO, said the earnings per share of 45 cents was a quarterly record.

"Importantly, we accomplished this milestone based upon strong operational performance as a result of higher volumes and margins, without the benefit of unusual income items," Haffner said.

He said the company has significantly reduced its cost structure in recent years, but has retained spare production capacity. That allows unit sales to rebound without the need for large capital expenditures, he said.

"We realized significant earnings leverage on higher unit volumes," said Haffner.

Leggett and Platt also boosted its earnings guidance for the year to a range of $1.45 to $1.52 per share. That's up from a July forecast of $1.35 to $1.50 per share.

Sales are projected at $3.7 billion to $3.75 billion. The July forecast was $3.65 billion to $3.8 billion.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, sales totaled $2.87 billion, an increase of 3.1% from $2.78 billion from the first nine months of 2011.

Nine-month net income was $174.7 million or $1.20 per share. That's up from $144.6 million or 98 cents per share in the first nine months of last year.

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