Herman Miller ( MLHR) said its third-quarter profit rose 33%.

The Zeeland, Mich.-based office furniture maker earned $22.4 million, or 33 cents a share, in the quarter ended March 4, compared with $16.8 million, or 24 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 33 cents a share.

Third quarter revenue rose 10.9% to $424 million. Analysts were expecting revenue of $422.6 million in the most recent quarter. Previous year's third quarter revenues included $12.3 million of sales from dealerships that are no longer owned or consolidated under accounting rules. Excluding the impact of the previous year revenue from these dealerships, the growth in sales would be 14.6%.

Looking ahead, the company is projecting fourth quarter earnings of 34 cents a share to 38 cents a share, on revenue of $430 million to $450 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 38 cents a share, on revenue of $445.09 million. The company said that orders rose 16.6% in the third quarter to $397.6 million. Excluding accounting adjustments, the rise in orders is at 18.5%. The order backlog at the end of the quarter is at $240.7 million, an increase of 11.9%.

Gross margin increased 40 basis points to 32.5%, driven primarily from higher volume, partially offset by increased freight costs. Operating expenses as a percentage of revenue declined 70 basis points to 23.8%.

"We're pleased with this quarter's sales and orders, and overall we remain positive on the U.S. economy as a whole," said the company. "We're making good progress towards our goal of doubling the business by 2010, and it's been encouraging to see the energy and excitement among our dealers and customers as we've shown them the new lines of products that we will formally introduce in June."
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