The company cannot yet quantify where its sales and earnings will come in, but it announced that it would "significantly miss" its second-quarter estimates and will update its guidance within the next two weeks. Investors aren't sitting still for the news, punishing the stock by more than 7% in midday trading.
The bad news for the furniture industry this time around involves the upholstered-furniture segment. More specifically, the problem is a lack of toluene diisocyanate. More commonly known as TDI, diisocyanate is a key raw material needed to make polyurethane foam, which is necessary to keep all of our sofas and recliners soft and supportive.
The manufacture of TDI requires petrochemicals; because of the detrimental impact hurricanes Rita and Katrina have had on oil refining capacity, TDI is now scarce, limiting supplies of polyurethane foam. That brings us back to La-Z-Boy and other furniture makers such as Ethan Allen
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn't end there for La-Z-Boy. The company also sustained damage to one of its Mississippi manufacturing plants from a tornado spawned in Hurricane Rita's wake. The damage from the tornado is severe, but the company has plans in place and will be able to recover from the loss by using other plants and outside suppliers. Nonetheless, this change increases the company's manufacturing and distribution costs.
La-Z-Boy is a tough nut to crack. The company has given numerous excuses in the past to explain why it won't make its performance goals. Still, the past two quarters have shown signs of improvement, even if that improvement wasn't as good as expected, and the TDI situation should eventually correct itself.
In addition, the company sports a meaty 3.3% dividend yield, and it is reassuring that the company has (up to this point) generated ample free cash flow to fund its dividend and to cover its interest expenses. However, with the full impact of the TDI shortage and damage to its manufacturing facilities unspecified, it's tough to feel confident about La-Z-Boy's financial performance for the rest of the year. Management's serial excuses and inability to meet earnings and sales estimates are disconcerting as well.
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