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La-Z-Boy swings from loss to profit

MONROE - After suffering a $123 million loss in fiscal 2009, furniture maker La-Z-Boy Inc. on Monday posted a solid $32.5 million profit for its just-completed fiscal year.

The improvement was the result, officials said, of the firm's moves the last several years.

But the Monroe company felt the sting of the recession and the public's reluctance to buy large-ticket items.

For the fiscal year that ended April 24, La-Z-Boy's sales declined 4 percent to $1.18 billion from $1.23 billion a year earlier.

Shutting some operations and other moves to make for a leaner manufacturing process are paying off in the bottom line, officials said.

Its profit of 62 cents a share for the year was a turnaround from last year's loss of $2.39 a share.

The company also trimmed its debt during the year to $48 million and increased its available cash to $108.4 million.

"Although our [wood furniture] segment continues to be challenged in this macroeconomic environment, with consumers postponing larger-ticket purchases of dining room and bedroom groups, the structural changes implemented throughout the segment enabled us to operate at a near break-even point for both the quarter and year on lower volume," said Kurt Darrow, La-Z-Boy president and chief executive officer.

Mr. Darrow said the company remains cautious for the current fiscal year, but its profit and other data suggest industry conditions may be improving.

For example, in the fiscal fourth quarter, La-Z-Boy had a profit of $13.7 million, or 26 cents a share, up 165 percent from a profit of $5.2 million, or 10 cents a share, for the same period a year earlier.

The firm's fourth-quarter sales also rose significantly to $310.7 million from $284.5 million a year ago.

If an industry turnaround occurs, "We believe our company is well positioned to compete in this environment and we are focused on improving our operations across all business segments," Mr. Darrow said.

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