ZEELAND, Mich. (AP) ¿ Office furniture maker Herman Miller Inc. posted a third-quarter loss late Wednesday, reversing a year-ago profit, as sales plunged in the weak economy. For the three months ended Feb. 28, the company lost $5.2 million, or 10 cents per share, compared with a profit of $38.3 million, or 65 cents per share, in the corresponding quarter a year ago. Adjusted for $23.4 million in restructuring costs, the company said it earned 18 cents per share in the most recent quarter. Per-share results reflect an 8 percent decrease in the number of outstanding shares year-over-year. Sales fell 29 percent to $354.4 million, from $495.4 million last year. The results fell short of expectations from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. On average, Wall Street expected a profit of 21 cents per share, on sales of $397.3 million. Analyst estimates typically exclude one-time charges like restructuring. Chief Executive Brian Walker said in a statement that business declined with the economy.
North American sales fell 28 percent to $295.5 million, while sales to the rest of the world slipped 28 percent to $51.8 million. The company said the impact of the stronger dollar decreased orders by $10.1 million in the quarter. Herman Miller said it "moved quickly to adjust labor, overhead and operating expenses," but the full benefits of those actions were not realized during the period. However, operating expenses did decline 21 percent, to $85.3 million, from $101.8 million in the year-ago quarter. The company said expenses should fall about 26 percent on a quarterly basis once its cost-saving operations are fully in place. Walker did not offer guidance for the current quarter, citing the "uncertainty in the global economy." The company did say its order backlog at the end of the quarter was $206.8 million, down 33 percent from last year. Herman Miller shares closed earlier up 61 cents, or 6.3 percent, at $10.32.