ST. LOUIS–Hours before its annual meeting today, in which a proxy fight will play out, Furniture Brands International executives discussed the company’s 14 percent decrease in quarterly sales, coupled with its near-tripled net income over the prior quarter.
Sales from continuing operations totaled $477 million, down 14 percent from the prior year, while net earnings from continuing operations totaled $3.75 million, up from $1.3 million in the year-ago period. Earnings per share from continuing operations were between 7 cents and 8 cents, more than double the 3 cents in 2007, the company said. Results exclude the impact of the first quarter sale and operations of Hickory Business Furniture.
Ralph P. Scozzafava, chief executive officer, who took the title of chairman of the board today, succeeding Mickey Holliman, told financial analysts and investors on a conference call this morning that the company’s turnaround plan is on track.
“The strategic plan the company unveiled last fall continues to drive improved performance despite a challenging retail environment,” he said. Furniture Brands’ plan called for 2007 to be focused on “cash and cleanup; ’08 is a year of profitability” and 2009 is about driving top-line sales growth, he reiterated.
He further reaffirmed the 2008 earnings target of 40 cents to 60 cents per share: “Our guidance is commitment-grade,” Scozzafava said.
At the company’s annual meeting of stockholders, which began at 10 a.m. CDT, voting will take place for the board of directors. Sun Capital, which owns 9.5 percent of Furniture Brands and has made unsuccessful bids to acquire the company, has lobbied for three of its nominees to be elected. Results of today’s voting for the contested board of directors positions won’t be released for another two weeks or so, but Scozzafava said, regardless of whether Sun Capital’s nominees get elected or Furniture Brands’ board remains intact, “We have to work together and build something great.”