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Office furniture sales rise despite unemployment

Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2011.

"Apparently, employers are increasing their spending more on the furniture than on the people who sit on the furniture," quipped reporter Avi Salzman at Barron's.

Steelcase earnings of $0.10/share zoomed past expectations for $0.05/share. Revenue of $639 million handily beat $542 million revenue in same quarter last year.  Revenues increased 39% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In the United States, Canada, and Latin America, revenues increased 23%.

"Customers are responding very well to our insight-led solutions for the interconnected workplace. By staying invested in multiple growth initiatives during the worst of the recession, we established a strong foundation for the revenue growth which occurred across all of our segments again this quarter," said James P. Hackett, Steelcase president and CEO.

"We are at an important intersection. While the broader economic recovery remains challenged by a variety of headwinds, many of our customers are facing the realities of deferred spending during a decade in which various forces are having exponential consequences on their work environments. We believe our research partnerships and insight-led approach to product development and space applications represent a significant competitive advantage for our company."

Herman Miller earnings of $0.30/share bettered  expectations of $0.26/share. The company reported net sales in the quarter of $441 million; an increase of 37% from the same quarter last fiscal year. Brian Walker, Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We finished the fiscal year in strong fashion behind continued strength in customer demand and improved operating leverage. Net sales in the quarter marked our fourth consecutive period of double-digit percentage growth and capped the largest full-year sales increase in our company's history. This recovery complements a host of milestones we achieved this year; all of which provide momentum as we begin fiscal 2012.

Both stocks are showing nice gains in an otherwise bear market Thursday.