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From Home Furnishing Business

Acquisition Boosts Hooker Furniture Sales, Profits

Buoyed by its recent acquisition of case goods and upholstery resource Home Meridian, Hooker Furniture (NASDAQ:HOFT) said sales more than doubled in the quarter ended Oct. 30, while net income jumped nearly 40% to $6.46 million or 56 cents per share.

The increases came despite a decline in sales in its legacy Hooker Casegoods business, and a drop in profitability in its upholstery segment.

Net sales for the quarter, the third quarter of the company’s fiscal year, totaled $145.3 million, up from $65.3 million in the same quarter last year.

The Home Meridian acquisition closed Feb. 1, the first day of the company’s current fiscal year, and its results aren’t included in last year’s figures.

“For the third quarter in a row, we improved top and bottom line performance,” said Paul Toms Jr., chairman and CEO. “Sales were up sequentially from the second quarter about $9 million, and we are encouraged by robust incoming orders in the last five to six weeks, driven by orders of new product introductions from the October High Point Market.”

Toms said post-market orders in the Hooker Casegoods Segment and Hooker Upholstery division have been particularly strong.

At Home Meridian, both sales and orders increased on a sequential basis versus the second quarter, and the order backlog stood at record levels at quarter end, said George Revington, Home Meridian Segment president.

Toms said Hooker case goods shipments were down about 12% in the first nine months of the fiscal year, but said he’s encouraged by the very favorable reception to recent product introductions.

“We believe the recent High Point Market in late October was one of our strongest in years, with very strong placements of our two major new collections, Hill Country and Arabella,” he said. “Orders on these and other new product introductions have driven a significant increase in demand in the last six weeks.”

Revington said Home Meridian saw increased demand in the third quarter after a weak second quarter.

“We have had an order surge in both our hospitality furniture and our e-commerce businesses,” he said, “We also continue to grow nicely with a select group of mass merchants. Our business with most of our major accounts is up as well.

“Additionally, our recently-launched Eric Church collection is retailing well for both case goods and upholstery products.”

Toms said Hooker upholstery shipments are down 3.6% year-to-date, but business there also has improved since the October market, noting that its order backlog is up almost 100% over last year.

“Of all the legacy brands, Hooker Upholstery, which includes imported leather upholstery, bar and counter stools and a new line of domestically-produced upholstered beds, had the most outstanding market, with very strong reception to new introductions,” he said.

For the nine months ended Oct. 30, net sales totaled $403.3 million, up from $186.4 million in the first nine months of the previous fiscal year.

Nine-month net income totaled $14.3 million or $1.23 per share. That was up from $12 million or $1.11 per share in the comparable period.



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