For better or worse, Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation Newell Rubbermaid
In response, the company has pushed ahead with additional aggressive restructuring efforts. Newell Rubbermaid wants to improve its portfolio of brands, cut manufacturing overhead, reduce resin needs, and generally improve its long-term growth outlook.
So far, at least, there's still plenty left to do. Sales in the fourth quarter were down slightly on an organic basis, and operating margins were considerably lower whether you looked at reported figures or charge-adjusted numbers. The company did manage to improve gross margin slightly, and free cash flow was also up for the full fiscal year.
As for the existing units, cleaning/organization had the worst time of it, with sales up more than 4% but operating income down almost 42%. Office products and tools/hardware fared better, with flat operating income, and home fashion actually saw operating income growth despite an 8% decline in sales.
Newell Rubbermaid efforts are necessary, but also difficult and risky. When you're in the midst of buying and selling businesses, it's easy to get carried away, since it's often more exciting than simply making the most of what you already have. Rubbermaid is still a well-known brand, but the company risks alienating customers with too many acquisitions.
It's hard to assess the future of a company when you have no idea what it may look like in another year or two. We're definitely not talking about a Procter & Gamble
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).