Leggett Reports Higher Earnings

Carthage, MO, Apr. 21--Leggett & Platt Inc.'s first-quarter earnings rose 27% as sales grew amid increased demand for components in bedding and upholstered furniture, steel wire and machinery. The maker of products used in home furnishings also provided an earnings outlook for the second quarter roughly in line with Wall Street estimates and raised the low end of its 2004 earnings forecast. In a press release Wednesday, Leggett & Platt said first-quarter earnings were $62.8 million, or 32 cents a share, which topped analysts' mean estimate of 29 cents and came in a penny ahead of its January forecast of 26 cents to 31 cents a share. A year earlier, the company earned $49.4 million, or 25 cents a share. First-quarter sales rose 14% to $1.19 billion from $1.04 billion a year earlier. Trading in shares of Leggett & Platt was recently halted for news at $22.40. In regular trading Wednesday, the stock fell 50 cents, or 2.2%, on Nasdaq volume of 1.1 million shares. Average daily volume is 514,580 shares. Leggett & Platt expects second-quarter earnings of 31 cents to 36 cents a share, compared with Wall Street estimates of 31 cents and above year-ago earnings of 24 cents. The company expects second-quarter revenue of $1.19 billion to $1.24 billion, which tops analysts' mean forecast of $1.16 billion and the $1.05 billion posted a year earlier. During the second quarter, Leggett & Platt also expects the cost for steel rods to average at least $100 per ton higher than first-quarter levels of $150 to $280 per ton as steel prices continue to rise. For 2004, the company raised the low end of its previous earnings range by 5 cents and now expects earnings of $1.20 to $1.35 a share. Wall Street expects Leggett & Platt to earn $1.28 in 2004, according to Thomson First Call, which polled 10 analysts. In 2003, the company earned $1.05 a share. Leggett & Platt expects 2004 revenue of $4.7 billion to $5 billion, compared with analysts' mean estimate of $4.75 billion and 2003 revenue of $4.39 billion.

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