Dec 16 (Reuters) - Leggett & Platt Inc (LEG.N), a maker of bed springs and store shelving, slashed its fourth-quarter outlook on soft consumer demand and an increase in anticipated costs, sending its shares down as much as 22 percent.
The company, battered by weak housing and retail markets, said it also plans to curtail production in a bid to reduce inventories. The company had sold four business units in the last quarter.
Leggett & Platt said it has also slowed its pace of stock repurchases, compared with the third quarter, as it awaits more clarity regarding the economy.
Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt expects fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations to be flat to 15 cents a share, down from its prior outlook of 15 cents to 30 cents a share.
The company cut its forecast for quarterly sales from continuing operations by about 8 percent to $865 million to reflect a weak market demand.
Analysts had been looking for earnings of 22 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $937.3 million, according to Reuters Estimates.
Leggett & Platt, however, said that 2009 cash flow from operations should be sufficient to fully fund the estimated $260 million to $270 million needed for capital expenses and dividends.
Leggett & Platt shares were down $3.49 at $12.03 in trading after the bell. They had closed at $15.52 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)