(LZB) - Get Report

said after the close Wednesday that it beat analyst estimates as first-quarter profits more than doubled from a year ago, and the company upped its 2003 guidance.

The furniture producer earned $24.9 million, or 41 cents a share, in the first quarter, up from $10.3 million, or 17 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding a 9 cents-a-share restructuring charge, the company earned 50 cents a share, up from 28 cents a share in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding charges, analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call had expected the company to earn 46 cents a share.

Sales for the quarter increased slightly to $596 million from $593 million last year, but came in ahead of the consensus estimate of $588.8 million.

In a press release, the company said its midpriced upholstery business saw healthy sales gains, but its office, health care, and hospitality business remained challenging. La-Z-Boy also noted that its restructuring efforts were paying off, as the company has significantly lowered its cost structure.

Looking ahead, La-Z-Boy said the industry is in the "early phases of a long-term recovery," and the company now expects to see first-quarter earnings of 22 cents to 27 cents a share, ahead of the consensus estimate of 20 cents. For 2003, "assuming demand rebounds as expected," the company expects to earn $1.60 to $1.75 a share. Analysts are currently expecting $1.49 per share for the year.

Shares of La-Z-Boy closed at $28.05 Wednesday before the earnings release.