Diluted earnings per share (EPS) in the second quarter of 2001 were a record $0.88 per share or $46,466,000 in net earnings compared to $0.87 EPS in the second quarter of 2000 or $47,203,000 in net earnings. This improvement in EPS was the result of a higher gross profit as a percent of net sales and the stock repurchase program. Net sales for the quarter decreased 3% to $828,348,000 compared to $852,808,000 for the second quarter of 2000. The sales decrease is due to continued softness in the industry and ongoing general difficult economic conditions mostly offset by growth in the hard surface products.
EPS for the first half of 2001 was $1.39 or $73,672,000 in net earnings compared to $1.47 EPS in the first half of 2000 or $81,200,000 in net earnings. Net sales for the first half of 2001 were $1,572,031,000 representing a 3% decrease from first half 2000 net sales of $1,617,891,000.
In commenting on the second quarter performance, Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum, President and CEO, stated, ``We are pleased with our improved gross profit and EPS this quarter. Our improvement in the gross profit percentage results from increased manufacturing efficiencies, cost containment and improvements in manufacturing utilization. Although sales remain soft because of slow general economic conditions, we are encouraged by the continuing expansion of our marketing programs and our growth in hard surface products. We continue to invest aggressively through the addition of hard surface flooring sales force and samples as well as the positioning of increased inventory to respond to our hard surface customer needs.
“As we look forward to the second half of the year, the economy continues to be a cause for concern. There has not been a consistent pattern of positive economic news to support a reversal in the soft economy. We will continue to closely review all alternatives for improving shareholder value during this time. Based on economic forecasts and our internal information, we believe EPS for the third and fourth quarters of 2001 will be in line with last year before extraordinary charges,'' Lorberbaum said.