CARTHAGE, Mo.-A decline in operating expenses offset a small drop in sales to propel Leggett & Platt to a first-quarter gain of 7.5 percent in net income, which totaled $53.1 million.
Selling and administrative expenses were down 8.1 percent in dollars and 77 basis points as a percentage of sales, to 10.7 percent. Net sales fell 1.5 percent to $919.1 million. Gross margin was off 67 basis points to 19.6 percent.
Sales in Leggett & Platt’s residential furnishings segment gained 2 percent, but this was offset by a 22 percent drop in sales of commercial fixturing and components, and a decline of 5 percent in sales of industrial materials. Sales of specialized products were up 6 percent.
David Haffner, chairman and CEO, said Leggett & Platt was pleased with its first quarter, whose sales were affected by the harsh winter weather. “Though sales declined, our EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) margin held ground, and we exited the quarter with improving demand,” Haffner said.
For all of 2014, Leggett & Platt said it now expects sales to grow by between 3 and 8 percent, to between $3.85 billion and $4.05 billion.