The retail furniture industry is apparently having the stuffing beat out of it these days. Over the past year, furniture makers are generally trading lower than they were previously, beset by an apparent leak in the housing bubble, increased imports from China, and rising oil prices.
Just the other day, Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation Stanley Furniture
The industry malaise is widening concern beyond just the furniture makers. Fabric suppliers, for example, are feeling the pinch as the furniture makers cut back. Culp
At least one furniture stock that's beat the trend is Ethan Allen
Healthy and growing free cash flow -- operating cash flows minus capital expenditures -- should point to the stronger companies in the industry. While the results tend to be somewhat lumpy, there are at least a few players showing improving numbers, which seems to bolster the contention of Fool Seth Jayson that fears of a complete sector meltdown are overblown.
Furniture Makers' Free Cash Flow
Since the ripple effect of cheap imports, high fuel costs, and a weakening housing market is likely to take its toll on stock prices, it helps to know which ones are likely to look a little threadbare after hard use.
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La-Z-Boy is a recommendation of Motley Fool Income Investor. Furniture makers Stanley and Hooker are both Motley Fool Hidden Gems selections. No matter your investing style, the Motley Fool has a newsletter for you.