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Larry Thomas

Hooker Furniture caps year with sales, profit gains

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Hooker Furniture said sales rose 9.7% in the fourth quarter, as the company finished its fiscal year with solid performances by its case goods and upholstery segments.

Profits also jumped to $3.7 million, or 34 cents per share, in the 14-week quarter ended Feb. 3, due largely to higher average selling prices and reduced sales discounting.

In the comparable 13-week quarter the previous year, which included an asset impairment charge of $1.82 million, profits were $628,000, or 6 cents per share.

Sales for the quarter totaled $59.6 million, up from $54.4 million in the comparable 13-week quarter.

For the fiscal year, profits jumped more than 70% to $8.64 million, or 80 cents per share, despite a 1.9% decline in sales.

The company said sales for the 53-week fiscal year were $218.3 million, compared with $222.5 million in the previous 52-week fiscal year.

Based on actual shipping days, Hooker said net sales per day decreased 3.4% in the fiscal year, but increased 1.3% in the fourth quarter.

The company's upholstery segment recorded an operating profit for the first time since the second quarter of fiscal 2009 and posted a 3.4% sales increase for the year. The case goods segment, meanwhile, had a 5% drop in sales but a 12% increase in operating income.

"After some challenges at the beginning of the year, we finished the second half with considerable momentum," said Paul Toms, chairman and CEO. "By year-end, we had solid performances by all of our operating units, healthy orders, good inventory availability increased efficiencies and a strong product lineup."

Toms said the most significant positive impact on the company's results came from improved sales and operating income at domestic upholstery units Bradington-Young and Sam Moore.

Bradington-Young ended the year with six straight months of operating profit on a modest sales increase, while Sam Moore had a 9% sales increase for the year.

Toms said he believes the momentum established in the second half of the year should carry over into the current fiscal year.

"With the improving economy and initial recovery of the housing market, we believe we're positioned to see continued improvement in orders, sales and profitability versus the prior year," he said. "We're encouraged by the sustained improvement in housing sales, new home construction, rising housing prices, reduced housing inventories, historically low mortgage rates and the best housing affordability in years."

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