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Charge Bites Ethan Allen

Written business "has slowed" in the current quarter.
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Ethan Allen's

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first-quarter earnings slid 9% from a year ago due to a facility charge.

The furniture maker earned $17.1 million, or 49 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with earnings of $18.8 million, or 51 cents a share, a year ago. The latest quarter included a charge of 8 cents a share related to the conversion of a factory into a distribution center. It also had additional compensation expense of 2 cents a share for stock-options expensing.

Sales rose 9.1% to $251.3 million, including an 11.8% rise in retail sales to $230.3 million and a 10.6% jump in wholesale sales to $178.4 million. Same-store sales rose 8.8% in the quarter compared with a year ago.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 54 cents a share in the quarter on sales of $236.8 million.

"While order trends remain encouraging, written business has slowed from the levels noted during the past three months," Ethan Allen said. "In addition, we remain cautiously aware of the threat of further increases in the cost of fuel and raw materials and the impact such events could have on consumer spending and profitability. Still, at this time, we believe that the current analyst estimates for both the fiscal second quarter ended December 31, 2005 and the fiscal year ended June 30, 2006 are within reach."

Analysts expect the company to earn 66 cents in the second quarter and $2.44 for the year. The stock closed at $30.50 Friday, 12.5 times the 2006 estimate.