There's no special certificate or diploma for completing a turnaround, nor is there an easy way to pinpoint exactly when things are back to normal for a company. That said, from this point on, I'll think of Steelcase (NYSE:SCS) more as a regular competitor in the office-furniture space than an ongoing turnaround story.

Looking at fourth-quarter results, we see that sales were up about 7% as reported. While there were some underlying factors at work, including newly classified service revenue, revenue from acquisitions, and currency effects, they all more or less cancel out. Growth was still a little lumpy, with revenue up nearly 10% in North America and 7% internationally but down more than 3% in the Design segment.

Bottom-line results were helped not only by top-line growth and more favorable tax treatment but also by tighter expense control. Adjusting out the impact of restructuring charges, gross margins improved more than a full point from last year, and operating margins were also significantly better. And while margins slid a bit sequentially, I won't make a big deal of that yet. (Once is coincidence. Twice ... well, we'll see.)

Since I last wrote about this stock in mid-December, the shares have done quite well. Their 15% rise easily outpaced competitors Herman Miller (NASDAQ:MLHR), HNI (NYSE:HNI), and the market in general. Though the stock is no longer especially cheap in my eyes, there's still ample opportunity for Steelcase to improve performance in North America and internationally, particularly in Asia.

That said, keep an eye on significant cost factors such as shipping and steel, not to mention the overall economic climate for business. If things slow down a bit, employers may not see such a pressing need for new furniture, which could deflate the growth here.

We've hammered out further Foolishness:

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).