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Update on the U.S. contract furniture market

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The U.S. Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) released its market statistics for December 2012.

BIFMA estimates December orders decreased 2% year-over-year, worsening compared with November’s 2% increase.
According to BIFMA, December shipments increased 3% year-over-year, a slight deceleration versus November’s 4% increase.

Looking ahead, the 20-year median change in orders from December to January has been down 13%, which would imply January orders of $620 million (up 2% year-over-year).

The month’s order and shipment statistics were derived from a sampling of 28 companies in the contract office furniture industry, the combined shipments of which make up about 75% of total industry volume.

US office furniture market

officenewswire characterizes the industry’s key drivers as positive or improving: ‘Corporate America is in great shape financially with profits and balance sheet cash at record levels’, and ‘office construction spending in 2012 increased 5% versus 2011, with year-over-year increases in 11 out of 12 months.’

They continue: ‘The Architects’ Billing Index – which leads non-residential construction by 8-13 months – ticked down to 52 in December compared with 53.2 in November; however, this marks the ABI’s fifth consecutive reading above 50 (the line of demarcation between expansion and contraction).’

‘Despite strong 2013 year-to-date and 2012 share price performances, we continue to find price-to-earnings multiples of the office furniture equities attractive’, and they conclude with ‘Office furniture is a structurally attractive industry for investors /¬†Each of the companies we cover is well-managed and of high quality’.

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