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Leggett & Platt's first-quarter sales rise 5.6%

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Components producer Leggett & Platt said first-quarter profits were slightly below last year's first quarter, but sales rose 5.6%.

Sales in its residential furnishings segment, the company's largest business segment, were up 7.1% on a 5% increase in unit volume.

Worldwide sales for the quarter totaled $946.8 million, up from $895.8 million in last year's first quarter. In addition to improvements in the residential furnishings segment, the company said the top line was aided by the recent acquisition of Western Pneumatic Tube, which is part of the industrial materials segment.

Net income was $44 million or 30 cents per share. That's a drop of 2.2% from $45 million or 30 cents per share in the same quarter last year. The per-share figures for both periods are the same because fewer shares were outstanding in the most recent quarter.

The most recent quarter's profit was hampered by a higher tax rate, the company said.

"We are pleased with first quarter results," said David Haffner, president and CEO "Aggregate unit volume increased, compared to a reasonably strong first quarter last year, and contributed to improved operating results. In addition, we are realizing the expected benefits from the restructuring activities initiated in late 2011, and continue to anticipate meaningful, full-year margin improvement."

Leggett & Platt also boosted its sales and earnings guidance for the year. It now projects sales of $3.65 billion to $3.85 billion, up from a February forecast of $3.6 billion to $3.8 billion.

Earnings per share are now projected to be $1.25 to $1.45, up from February's forecast of $1.20 to $1.40.

In 2011, the company had sales of $3.64 billion and earnings per share of $1.04, including a restructuring charge of 16 cents per share.

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