HM reports lower sales to government health care

Herman Miller’s sales in the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year were up over the preceding quarter, but weak demand in some sectors — particularly government and health care — present continuing challenges, according to company officials speaking at a conference call last week.

“In recent quarters we’ve demonstrated the ability to deliver solid business performance, despite the continuing backdrop of uncertain economic conditions,” said CEO Brian Walker.

Net sales in the first quarter, which ended Sept. 1, were $449.7 million, up the equivalent of 5.7 percent over the same quarter last year. Diluted earnings per share were 34 cents, compared to 42 cents in the prior year quarter. Net sales and orders in the first quarter were up 6.9 percent and 1.8 percent over the fourth quarter of FY2012.

Walker said the company’s specialty and consumer business sectors made great strides, and international sales in emerging markets in Asia and Latin America also delivered solid results. Those gains, however, were offset by low demand in Europe and a weaker euro, plus soft demand from the federal government and health-care customers.

“The macroeconomic picture is today largely unchanged from when we last spoke in June,” said Walker.

Walker also noted that new office construction has been reasonably stable in recent months but is yet to show signs of improvement.

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