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Calhoun, Ga.-based Mohawk Industries is the largest flooring manufacturer in the world.
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Jeff Loberbaum of Mohawk Carpets

It was another strong quarter and start to the year for Mohawk Industries, the world's largest flooring manufacturer, as the Calhoun, Ga.-based company posted record quarterly earnings for the eighth straight time.

Through the first three months of this year, Mohawk posted net sales of $2.2 billion, and net earnings of $172 million, or $2.30 diluted earnings per share.

Adjusted earnings per share from January through March were up 40 percent over the first quarter of last year, and net sales were up 15 percent over the same period.

Jeff Lorberbaum, chairman and CEO of Mohawk, said in the company's post-market close release Thursday that the results "exceeded our projections with revenue growing across all segments."

"We delivered our eighth consecutive quarter with record year over year adjusted EPS, as well as the highest net sales for any quarter in the company's history," he said.

Mohawk has invested heavily in its hard surface flooring production, both in the U.S. and overseas, and it is paying off for the manufacturer as hard surface demand soars, shrinking the gap between total hard and soft surface sales.

Mohawk last year acquired Bulgarian ceramic tile manufacturer KAI Group and Belgian luxury vinyl and laminate manufacturer IVC Group, establishing the company's presence in the European and Russian flooring markets.

Lorberbaum said in Thursday's release other capital improvements and investments made last year also played into the strong first quarter outing.

The first production line at Mohawk's new $180 million, 1.4-million square-foot Dickson, Tenn., ceramic tile plant is now running. The remaining two production lines are scheduled to start up between now and August, said Lorberbaum.

Meanwhile, Mohawk is also poised to expand its ceramic production plant in central Mexico and wrap up improvements to its ceramic tile production facilities in Europe.

Global ceramic tile sales were up 8 percent in the first quarter.

Mohawk is also actively investing in its luxury vinyl, hard surface flooring production. Luxury vinyl currently represents the fastest-growing flooring segment, and is shrinking the gap between hard and soft flooring surfaces.

For 2016, Mohawk officials have already green-lit the expansion of luxury vinyl tile production facilities in the U.S. and Europe, and the expansion of premium laminate production facilities in the U.S. and Europe.

"Our U.S. hard surface sales increased across all channels as we leverage our relationships with independent retailers, home centers and commercial customers," said Lorberbaum. "Our LVT sales are growing dramatically in both residential and commercial sectors as we ramp up production at our new U.S. plant."

Lorberbaum said the company will keep reinvesting this year to meet that growing demand.

"We anticipate investing more than $600 million in capital projects this year," said Lorberbaum, "and we are assessing further internal opportunities."

Looking ahead, Lorberbaum said company officials expect to see $3.29 to $3.38 earnings per share in the second quarter, excluding restructuring charges.

"Our first quarter performance reflects the positive impact of the investments we have made in the business over the past three years," he said.

Mohawk will host a conference call today at 11 a.m., for company officials to discuss the results.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

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