The company's interest expense for the quarter was $1.4 million as compared to $1.3 million in the first quarter of 2016. Its income tax benefit rate was 22.1 per cent for the quarter. For the first quarter of 2017, its receivables increased by $7.6 million on higher sales activity. The inventories increased seasonally by $6.3 million.
Capital equipment acquisitions, including those funded by cash and financings, totalled $3.8 million for the quarter. Depreciation and amortisation for the period was $3.2 million. We have budgeted capital expenditures for 2017 of approximately $9 million and depreciation and amortisation of approximately $13.3 million. Our debt stood at $120.7 million at the end of the quarter.
"Though the first quarter of the year is historically our weakest quarter, this year our sales were substantially stronger as compared to the same period in 2016. Our floor covering sales were up over the first quarter of 2016 by 11.9 per cent while we estimate the industry was flat for the same comparative period. Sales of residential products increased 12.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 versus the same period in 2016 while we believe the industry was up only slightly for the year over year period. Our commercial product sales, largely led by modular carpet tile, increased 10.4 per cent in 2017 versus 2016 while the industry sales, we believe, were off in the low single digits," said Daniel K Frierson, chairman and chief executive officer, Dixie Group.
Dixie Group's cost structure improved significantly on the higher sales and production volumes. Additionally, it significantly reduced its quality related expenses across both the residential and commercial product lines. Offsetting these gains were substantial increases in medical costs as well as other people related costs.
The company is completing the startup of its expanded yarn processing capabilities in the Atmore, Alabama commercial facility. These changes should improve the response time and further lower the cost of the make to order production model. In the second quarter, it will complete the startup of its carpet and yarn beck dyeing operations in the north Georgia Colormaster facility. This will complete the centralisation of all of the company's east coast internal and external dyeing needs into a single facility. (KD)
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