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David Perry

New Tempur-Pedic bed to use air 'as a component'

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tempur-Pedic is introducing an adjustable comfort bed at the Las Vegas Market next week that uses air as a component, the producer says.

 Tempur-Choice bedThis is one of two new models in the new Tempur-Choice line of high-end airbeds offering adjustable comfort.

While the company did not specifically say it is introducing an airbed, it did acknowledge that air is used "as a component" in the overall structure of the bed.

In a conference call with securities analysts following the release of Tempur-Pedic's fourth-quarter earnings, Mark Sarvary, Tempur-Pedic's CEO, made these comments about the introduction: "We are quite excited about it. But, as I said, it is first and foremost, a Tempur-Pedic bed. And it has Tempur material and it provides the support and comfort of Tempur, it feels like Tempur. But it does have the ability to adjust, and I'm not going to go into great details, but it does use air as a component of its overall structure."

Analysts who follow Tempur-Pedic were intrigued by the news.

John Baugh, a Richmond, Va.-based analyst with Stifel Nicolaus, said Tempur-Pedic's plans are "an obvious admission that the Sleep Number bed by Select Comfort has gained consumer awareness." He added: "Air is a difficult product to manufacture, sell and service, and we will withhold judgment until we better understand the product and the plans to tackle previous hurdles that independent retailers have faced when selling air beds."

Keith Hughes, an Atlanta-based analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, said he thinks independent retailers will be "very interested in stocking this bed as adjustable comfort is currently not an option given the proprietary sales channel of the Sleep Number bed."

Hughes said the line "will allow for adjustable comfort with the use of air to achieve this variability. How close this product will be Select Comfort's Sleep Number bed remains to be seen but it is obviously focused on the same consumer."

Hughes said he wanted to reserve judgment on the product until he sees the bed.

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