CARTHAGE, Mo.-Boosts in sales of residential furnishings, industrial materials and specialized products helped Leggett & Platt to a gain of 5.5 percent in fourth-quarter net sales, to $896.8 million.
The total for the quarter, which ended on Dec. 31, brought sales for fiscal-year 2013 to $3.7 billion, up 1.1 percent from fiscal-year 2012. A one-time charge related to impairment, an acquisition-related benefit from the third quarter and net earnings from discontinued operations resulted in a 92.5 percent drop in fourth-quarter net income, to $5.6 million. For the year, net income totaled $197.3 million, down 20.5 percent from the prior year.
Leggett & Platt’s residential furnishings segment logged a sales increase of 4.8 percent in the quarter, the result of unit volume growth in several product categories and price increases in carpet underlay. The company also benefited from double-digit sales increases in both its industrial materials and specialized product segments. Sales in the commercial fixturing and components segment dropped 8.5 percent.
Gross margin for the quarter fell 224 basis points to 18.5 percent, the result of an unexpected increase in steel costs, Leggett & Platt said. Selling, general and administrative expenses increased 2 percent in dollars but declined 37 basis points as a percentage of sales, to 10.8 percent.
Noting that the economy held down its sales growth for 2013, David Haffner, Leggett & Platt’s chairman and CEO, said the outlook is brighter for the company in 2014. “Forecasters are calling for a modestly better U.S. economy, though they note that headwinds still exist,” Haffner said. “And as we look beyond 2014, we are encouraged by the positive direction several of our businesses are headed.”