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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2007

La-Z-Boy swings to profit for '07 year

MONROE - Cost-cutting helped furniture maker La-Z-Boy Inc. to eke out a profit in its just-concluded fiscal year, but sales continued to recline.

The firm made $4.1 million, or 8 cents a share, up from a loss of $3 million, or 6 cents a share, in the prior year, executives said in a financial statement issued yesterday.

But sales for the year ending April 28 plunged 5 percent to $1.6 billion, and likely will fall an additional 5 to 10 percent in the current fiscal year, the company warned.

"We continue to operate in an environment marked by extremely difficult retail conditions across the industry and have remained focused on running our operations with efficiency and ensuring our cost structure is in line with revenue stream," Kurt Darrow, chief executive, said in a statement.

U.S. furniture manufacturers overall have suffered in recent years because of inexpensive foreign imports and weaker sales as householders postponed or canceled furniture purchases.

La-Z-Boy expects profit of 45 to 60 cents a share from continuing operations in the current fiscal year, up from 38 cents a share last year.

Shares of the Michigan furniture maker gained 66 cents to close yesterday at $12.30 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange before the earnings were announced.

In the four-month period ended April 28, the company made $7.7 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $407 million.

Sales fell 9 percent, although the quarter's results were significantly improved from a $10.3 million loss in the year-ago period.

To trim costs, La-Z-Boy has closed or combined factories and has shifted to reliance on imports for dining sets and other wood furniture.

Additionally, the firm sold its Sam Moore upholstered chair company for $10 million in the just-concluded quarter and is looking for buyers for its Pennsylvania House and Clayton Marcus divisions.

- Gary T. Pakulski



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