Boosted by the recent rebound in the U.S. housing market, shares of Leggett & Platt, Inc. hit a new 52-week high of $34.07 on Friday, Apr 12, before closing at $33.79. This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) manufacturer of diversified engineered products and components beat its previous 52-week high of $34.00 and generated a year-to-date return of approximately 22.9%.
Average volume of shares traded over the last 3 months came in at approximately 1,236K. Currently, the stock which has a market cap of $4.82 billion trades at a forward P/E of 20.8x, significantly higher than the peer group average of 14.8x.
We believe that Leggett’s well-diversified customer base and solid research and development (R&D) capabilities offer it a competitive edge while strengthening its pricing power in the market. Moreover, the Mo.-based manufacturer of components for residential and office furniture is continually enhancing its core business operations while improving its financial flexibility.
In addition, Leggett is constantly taking strategic actions to add new products to its portfolio as per the consumers’ changing preferences while simultaneously divesting low-performing businesses.
The company also boasts an impressive record of beating the quarterly earnings expectations and a favorable outlook.
With respect to earnings surprise, Leggett has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate 4 times in the last 5 quarters with an average surprise of 7.1%. In the fourth-quarter of 2012, the company’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 10.3%.
The company’s earnings of 32 cents per share jumped approximately 45.0% from the year-ago quarter’s earnings of 22 cents and beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 29 cents. The increased bottom line was aided by the lower cost of goods sold and effective cost management.
Buoyed by better-than-expected results, Leggett projects full-year 2013 earnings per share between $1.50 and $1.75, representing a significant rise from earnings per share of $1.46 reported in 2012. Net sales are anticipated to be in the range of $3.75–$3.95 billion, reflecting growth of 1% to 6%.
Besides Leggett, companies such as Home Depot Inc. , The Walt Disney Company and Rite Aid Corp. achieved new 52-week highs of $73.66, $60.73 and $2.33, respectively, on Friday.