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Knoll Q1 beats profit expectations

Thursday 16 April 2009

Knoll Inc posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by cost-cutting measures, but the office furniture maker forecast a steeper decline in demand and sales.

The company\'s shares, which had initially risen more than 15 percent, pared gains and were down 18 cents at $6.53 in midday trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

\"There is no doubt that we will see sequential and deeper declines in sales as we work through some of the larger projects still in our backlog,\" Chief Executive Andrew Cogan said on a conference call with analysts.

Knoll\'s first quarter saw sales fall across all categories on lower demand. Net sales fell 21 percent to $212.6 million, while backlog of unfilled orders on March 31 was $163.8 million, a decrease of 19.9 percent.

The decline in backlog implies that orders plunged 38 percent year-on-year to $174.7 million, compared with a 3 percent growth a year ago, Raymond James analyst Budd Bugatch said in a research note.

Bugatch rates the stock \"outperform.\"

\"Backlog will continue to decline until product demand improves with the economy or from our new product introductions,\" Chief Financial Officer Barry McCabe said on the call.

Knoll reported a first-quarter profit of $9.5 million, or 21 cents per share, compared with $17.3 million, or 36 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding restructuring charges, the East Greenville, Pennsylvania-based company earned 29 cents a share.

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