Herman Miller Shares Hit All-time High on Outlook - Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of Herman Miller Inc. (MLHR.O), maker of the ergonomic Aeron chair and other office furniture, rose to an all-time high on Thursday morning, after the company said it would launch a new Aeron product in January and forecast a third-quarter outlook that beat Wall Street expectations. In January, the company will offer a modified Aeron chair whose footrest will move with the chair as the user raises and lowers it, solving the problem of dangling feet, Chief Executive Brian Walker said during the post-earnings conference call. "It is one of those great product extensions off of a fantastic brand," he said, adding that the dangling feet issue has bedeviled chairmakers for a long time. "It's a problem that heretofore has not been solved well by anyone, we believe, and in fact hasn't been solved well by us with Aeron in particular," he said. After Wednesday's market close, Herman Miller forecast third-quarter earnings of 50 cents to 54 cents a share, well above consensus estimates of 44 cents a share, Raymond James analyst Budd Bugatch wrote in a research note. The Zeeland, Michigan-based company also predicted third-quarter sales of $480 million to $500 million. "We are optimistic as we head to Q3 that we have passed the peak for raw material costs," Walker said during the call. Macroeconomic conditions including corporate profits, nonresidential construction and office vacancy rates also remained favorable, Walker said. Herman Miller's second-quarter net earnings rose 26 percent to $36.6 million, or 56 cents a share, from $27.9 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier. Net sales rose 9.2 percent to $499.1 million. Analysts polled by Reuters estimates had forecast earnings of 56 cents a share on revenue of $501.93 million. Earlier in the session on Thursday, Herman Miller's shares touched $38.30, beating the previous all-time high of $36.90 it hit on November 21. The share spike was probably the result of recovery from a drop caused by mediocre domestic earnings recently posted by a comparable company, Bugatch wrote. Herman Miller's shares were up $1.36, or 3.86 percent, to $36.59 in late-morning trade on the Nasdaq.

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