The Mornin' Mail is published every weekday except major holidays
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 Volume XVII, Number 219

did ya know?

Did Ya Know?... American Red Cross Blood Drive will be held Thursday, April 30th, 11:30-6:00 p.m. at the Church of the Nazarene, 2000 Grand, Carthage, MO.

Did Ya Know?.. The Carthage Humane Society is in need of new Board of Directors to serve a 3 year term starting May 2009. Persons with background in finance or non-profit law are especially encouraged to apply. Contact Glenda at 417-358-3819.

today's laugh

A blizzard is when it snows sideways.

A hurricane is a breeze of a bigly size.

Thunder is a rich source of loudness.

Isotherms and isobars are even more important than their names sound.

It is so hot in some places that the people there have to live in other places.

The wind is like air, only pushier.

Humidity is the experience of looking for air and finding water.

We keep track of the humidity in the air so we won’t drown when we breathe.

Rain is often known as soft water, oppositely known as hail.

Rain is saved up in cloud banks.

A vibration is a motion that cannot make up its mind which way it wants to go.

Rainbows are just to look at, not to really understand.

A Chronological Record of Events as they have Transpired in the City and County since our last Issue.


Heaviest Storm For Years-Thunder and Lightning’s Wild Freaks.

The heaviest and wildest and grandest electrical storm that this section has experienced for many years visited this city and surrounding country last night. There were threatening warnings from dusk till 9 p.m., then the rain came down in heavy torrents, and the elements flashed and shrieked with fury.

The rainfall continued till after daylight, and when it ceased and the bright sun shone out this morning 4.88 in. of water had fallen. Streets and roads were washed out of all resemblance of smoothness, bridges and culverts were washed away. Several county bridges were flooded over, but none are reported carried away.

The worst results were from the Frisco washout west of town and the tie-up of the electric line traffic at Miller switch. The peculiar part of the storm was its purely local nature. Spring river at Carthage has not raised 6 inches since yesterday and no shipping interests are jeopardized. Trainmen from Monett report but a light rain there, and it is evident there was little rainfall at the headwaters of the river. Reports also say there was little rain at Joplin.

The atmosphere during the storm was charged with electricity. The lightning struck and set fire to the Hanker house on North Main street, and struck and tore up the roof of a house at Macon and Kellar streets, occupied by a family named Hurt. Several trees in south Carthage were struck and splintered. Half the telephones about town were burned out Supt. Rush was head over heels in work this morning making repairs. The electric railway’s traffic was tied up for several hours; during the fiercest of the storm the power houses being shut down.

Another house was struck at the corner of Cedar and Case streets in southwest Carthage.

Farmers from various sections of the country report corn badly blown down and greatly damaged.

  Today's Feature

Parking Violations May Be Clarified.

The City Council is scheduled to meet this evening in City Hall for their regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.

The agenda includes the first reading of two bills concerning parking. Council bill 09-29 clarifies the current ordinance that prohibits any standing vehicles on public streets for more than forty-eight hours. The new bill specifies that an abandoned vehicle shall be "any vehicle which is disabled or cannot be driven on the City Street or Highways of the State for whatever reason."

Council Bill 09-30 would establish a fine for parking in a handicapped space without a parking place card issued by the State of Missouri. Currently there is no fine for the offense in the Carthage Code. The Council Bill would make the minimum fine for the violation $50. It would also extend the jurisdiction of the Police Department to include private property parking facilities. Violators could be towed and be responsible for any charges incurred along with the fine.

Leggett & Platt Announces

First Quarter Results


-- 1Q EPS of $.06 per share; sales from Continuing Operations were $718 million, 28% lower than in prior year.

-- 1Q cash flow from operations of $115 million, 116% higher than in prior year.

-- 2009 EPS guidance of $.60 - $.90, on $2.9 - 3.3 billion of sales from Continuing Operations.

Diversified manufacturer Leggett & Platt reported first quarter earnings of $.06 per share. In the first quarter of 2008, earnings from Continuing Operations were $.23 per share. The year-over-year reduction in quarterly earnings was primarily due to lower unit sales volumes, which were partially offset by improved margins on selected products as a result of better pricing discipline. First quarter sales from Continuing Operations were $718 million, 28% lower than last year’s sales of $998 million, due to extremely weak market demand.

First quarter cash flow from operations was $115 million, as efforts to reduce working capital contributed significantly to cash flow. Net debt-to-capital was 27.1%, well below the company’s target range of 30-40%. The first quarter tax rate was 52%, atypically high due to the low level and mix of earnings among various tax jurisdictions; the 2009 full year tax rate is now anticipated to be approximately 39%.

Strategic Progress Amid Economic Turmoil

President and CEO David S. Haffner commented, "First quarter earnings were in line with what we anticipated; however, market demand was weaker than we expected, and was the driving force behind the year-over-year reduction in earnings. In addition, as anticipated, first quarter earnings were significantly impacted by steel deflation (as inventory valuation and selling prices reflected lower steel costs). This impact should be essentially offset by a LIFO benefit over the course of the full year, but the timing mismatch of these two offsetting items depressed first quarter earnings and will also impact 2Q, though to a lesser extent.

"We continue to experience very weak demand across our markets. For many of our businesses, demand seems to have stabilized during the first quarter, albeit at levels below what we anticipated. Office furniture volume continues to decline, consistent with industry trends. Though data for our markets affords only limited visibility, based upon first quarter sales and current demand levels we have reduced our guidance for the full year.

"The company’s primary strategic objective is to consistently achieve Total Shareholder Return (TSR(1)) within the top 1/3 of the S&P 500. From January 1, 2008 through April 21, 2009 we posted TSR of negative 8%(2); our performance for that period, though disappointing, ranks within the top 9% of the S&P 500 companies. We believe that our TSR would be much lower had we not implemented, and made significant progress on, our revised strategy."

Strong Financial Position

Leggett & Platt remains well situated to weather the current challenging economic environment, even if it lasts for an extended period. The company is in an extremely strong financial position with: i) nearly $600 million available under its existing commercial paper program and revolver facility, ii) net debt-to-capital well below the company’s long-term target, and iii) no significant long-term debt maturing until 2012.

The company expects, even under current market conditions, to continue to fund both capital expenditures and quarterly dividends from operating cash flow.

Dividend and Stock Repurchases

During the quarter Leggett declared a $.25 dividend. At yesterday’s closing share price of $14.75, the indicated annual dividend of $1.00 per share generates a dividend yield of 6.8%.

During the first quarter, the company repurchased 1.3 million shares of its stock at an average of $13.26 per share, and issued 2.2 million shares through employee benefit plans. As a result, shares outstanding increased by 0.9 million shares to 156.7 million.

2009 Outlook: $.60 to $.90 EPS

Earnings per share (from Continuing Operations) for the full year 2009 are expected to be $.60 - $.90. Earnings should benefit from previous closures of poorly-performing operations, reduced overhead spending, and lower commodity costs.

Quarterly earnings will be highly variable. The first half of 2009 is being negatively impacted by steel deflation (as inventory valuation and selling prices reflect lower steel costs). This impact should be essentially offset for the full year by a LIFO benefit; Leggett is now forecasting $68 million of LIFO benefit for the year, and anticipates recognizing approximately $17 million in each quarter. As a result of the mismatch in timing of these two offsetting items, earnings for the remaining quarters should improve.

Full year sales (from Continuing Operations) are projected to be $2.9-3.3 billion, or 19%-29% lower than in 2008. This reduction from prior guidance reflects anticipated continuation of extremely weak market demand.

Leggett expects 2009 cash requirements for dividends (approximately $155 million) and capital expenditures (about $100 million) to be funded solely from operating cash flow, which is anticipated to exceed $300 million. The company still intends to use excess cash flow primarily to repurchase shares of its stock; however, the company may complete those purchases at a slower pace than previously anticipated, depending on the outlook for the economy. Management has a standing authorization from the Board of Directors to purchase up to 10 million shares annually.

LIFO Expense

All of Leggett’s segments use the FIFO (first-in, first-out) method for valuing inventories. An adjustment is made at the corporate level to convert about 60% of the inventories to the LIFO (last-in, first-out) method. Since the LIFO benefit is not recorded at the segment level, 2009 segment EBIT margins will be unusually low. Steel cost decreases in 1Q 2009 were significant, and contributed to an anticipated LIFO benefit of $68 million for the full year (for Continuing Operations), which contrasts with $62 million of LIFO expense in 2008. Earnings for the first quarter reflect a LIFO benefit of $17.0 million, compared to LIFO expense of $3.6 million in 1Q 2008.

SEGMENT RESULTS - First Quarter 2009 (versus 1Q 2008)

Residential Furnishings - Total sales from Continuing Operations decreased $109 million, or 21%. Extremely weak market demand more than offset inflation-related price increases and market share gains in specific product categories. EBIT (earnings before interest and income taxes) from Continuing Operations decreased $36 million, with the income impact of significantly lower unit volumes partially offset by cost reductions.

Commercial Fixturing & Components - Total sales from Continuing Operations decreased $77 million, or 40%, due to the company’s decision to walk away from sales with unacceptable profit margins, market softness in office furniture components, and reduced capital spending by retailers. EBIT from Continuing Operations decreased $11 million.

Industrial Materials - Total sales decreased $48 million, or 22%, as a result of weak demand. EBIT decreased $6 million primarily due to lower sales.

Specialized Products - Total sales from Continuing Operations decreased $65 million, or 38%. Weak global demand in all parts of the segment - automotive, machinery, and commercial vehicle products - led to the decline. EBIT from Continuing Operations declined $24 million due to lower sales.


Just Jake Talkin'

When folks would be complainin’ about the excessive amount or the excessive lack of rain, my dad would always say that it all evens out.

"Couldn’t do it better if I had my hand on the "spicket" myself," he’d always say.

I’d have ta suppose that was his way of sayin’ there is a greater plan that what any individual might be aware of at any particular time. ‘Course that wasn’t much help when a big game at the baseball field was rained out.

Most conversations about the weather were with farmers who had more ridin’ on the outcome than gettin’ a double to impress the girls. I don’t know if Dad’s advice was much comfort to ‘em, but most understood, ‘specially in this part a the country. Make hay while the sun is shinnin’.

This is some fact, but mostly,

Just Jake Talkin’.



Carthage Printing

Weekly Columns

To Your Good Health

By Paul G. Donohue, M.D.

No Cure for Heartburn, but Medicines Can Help

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: In 2004, I had a scope put down my throat and into my stomach. The doctor said I had a hiatal hernia and signs of acid reflux. He put me on Prilosec. It stops my heartburn very well. I have been on it ever since. If I miss two doses, the heartburn returns. Is it safe to take this medicine for long periods of time? -- L.K.

ANSWER: Prilosec (omeprazole), Aciphex, Protonix, Nexium and Prevacid are proton-pump inhibitors, the strongest medicines for decreasing stomach acid production. The manufacturers of these medicines suggest a four-to-eight-week course of medicine. The medicines don’t cure heartburn. They suppress it as long as a person takes them. So what’s a person to do when heartburn returns after a course of therapy? Another kind of medicine, like Zantac, can be used. Common antacids often work. Avoiding foods that stimulate acid production is another way to control symptoms.

However, if acid reflux is severe, then the proton-pump medicines are the best. Evidence suggests that long-term use might make a person more apt to have a hip fracture. That danger can be partially offset by taking calcium and vitamin D. Many people remain on these medicines for extended periods. You have to make this decision for yourself.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have what doctors call black hairy tongue. Can you tell me about it? -- Anon.

ANSWER: Black hairy tongue, aside from its looks, is an innocent condition that comes from the elongation of tongue papillae, tiny projections from the tongue’s surface. Gently brushing the tongue three times a day with toothpaste, baking soda or 3 percent hydrogen peroxide can usually get rid of it. If it’s not gone in a month, return to the dentist or doctor for a follow-up exam.


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