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Furniture retailer shares fall on La-Z-Boy results

NEW YORK (AP) -- Share of a number of furniture makers plunged in trading Wednesday after La-Z-Boy Inc. reported disappointing sales.

The company said Tuesday that its fiscal fourth-quarter sales fell to $327.4 million from $338.9 million in the same period last year. That was due in part to an extra week in the prior year but investors saw bigger issues.

Furniture retailers have struggled in the sluggish economy. Consumers tend to curb big-ticket purchases in tough times. Many home owners and renters are less inclined to buy new furniture when they are worried about their jobs.

"The tepid economy currently and likely negative focus on the upcoming election will likely keep consumers at bay near term," Stifel Nicolaus analyst John Baugh said in a research note Wednesday.

Underlining those points, Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. executives said at an investors' conference that traffic was slowing in their stores. The company's shares fell $2.51, or 11.3 percent, to $19.70 in afternoon trading.

La-Z-Boy shares fell $1.70, nearly 13 percent, to $11.43.

Shares of other furniture retailer's shares dropped as well. Haverty Furniture Companies Inc. shares fell 48 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $11.30, and Stanley Furniture Co. Inc.'s shares fell 4 cents to $3.91.