Lumber Liquidators 1Q profit falls 13 pct

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Lumber Liquidators' first-quarter net income fell 13 percent as severe weather cut into the sales of its hardwood flooring.

Its results missed Wall Street expectations and shares fell more than 6 percent in midday trading.

CEO Robert Lynch said Wednesday that while the company was frustrated by winter storms, demand did begin to increase in mid-March.

Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc., which has more than 335 retail stores in North America, expects that sales delayed by the weather during the first quarter will now occur in the second and third quarters.

Revenue increased nearly 7 percent to $246.3 million, yet sales in established stores fell less than one percent during the quarter. That comparison is a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes the volatility at recently opened or closed stores.

The Toano, Va., company said some lower costs helped boost its gross margin, the percentage of each dollar of sales that a company keeps as profit. But Lumber Liquidators experienced higher transportation costs related to the start-up of its West Coast distribution center.

Lumber Liquidators earned $13.7 million, or 49 cents per share, for the period ended March 31. That's down from $15.8 million, or 57 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 62 cents per share on $262.3 million in revenue. Its shares fell $5.95, or 6.9 percent, to $80.05 in midday trading.

The company stuck by its 2014 earnings forecast of between $3.25 and $3.60 per share on revenue of between $1.15 billion and $1.2 billion. Analysts expect $3.51 per share on revenue of $1.18 billion.

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Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MFelberbaum .

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