Why Herman Miller, Inc. Shares Dropped Today

By Markets Fool.com

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Image source: Herman Miller.

What happened

Shares ofHerman Miller, Inc.(NASDAQ: MLHR) were slipping after the office furniture supplier posted a disappointing first-quarter results last night. As of 11:20 a.m. EDT, the stock was down 10.2%.

So what

Herman Miller's slide followed weak reports from two other peers this week,SteelcaseandHNI, Inc.,indicating a broader slowdown in the office furniture industry. Herman Miller shares were down 8.5% Tuesday, following weak guidance from HNI, meaning the stock is now down about 20% this week.

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For the quarter past, Herman Miller posted earnings per share of $0.60, up from $0.56 a year ago but short of estimates at $0.62. Sales increased 5.9% to $598.6 million.CEO Brian Walker was optimistic in spite of the headwinds, saying, "Despite uncertainty in the global macro-economic environment, we were pleased that our ELA, Specialty and Consumer businesses each delivered strong organic order growth for the quarter." Still, he acknowledged that North American orders were softer than expected.

Now what

Guidance was also weaker than expected as the company sees sales of $580 million-$600 million for the current quarter, short of estimates of $601.1 million and indicating adjusted sales growth of 2.5% at the midpoint. On the bottom line, management expects EPS of $0.52-$0.56, below estimates of $0.60 as well as last year's figure at $0.57.

Office supply retailers likeStaples andOffice Depot have seen sales steadily fall as the American work environment changes. While office furniture isn't threatened by digitization the way paper and printers are, the increase in telecommuting and other workplace shifts may be a long-term headwind for companies like Herman Miller. Still, the company delivers solid profits and is cheap at a valuation of 12. After this week's 20% drop, I'd expect shares to be close to a near-term bottom.

Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.