Avery Dennison (NYSE:AVY) had a great trading session yesterday. The maker of products for the office and business environment -- think labels, inkjet cartridges, bar-code printers, etc. -- reported earnings that beat mighty Mr. Market's expectations.

For the fourth quarter, net sales increased 3.5% to $1.41 billion. Income from continuing operations jumped 86% to $108.7 million. Net income from continuing operations was $101.9 million -- on a per-share basis, that came out to $1.01, good for an awesome increase of 77%.

The full year saw a more modest sales increase of about 1.9%, coming in at $5.6 billion. Income from continuing operations rose 16% to $425.6 million. Net income from continuing operations was $352.5 million -- that translated to $3.51 per share, a gain of 21%.

Avery Dennison is focusing on restructuring initiatives to streamline its operations. The company hopes to earmark those savings for improving productivity via upgrades in IT systems, and for investing in growth-driving programs, which would be a smart use of the money, as commodity inflation must always be accounted for with a consumer-products concern.

Net cash from operations for the year increased almost 16% to $511 million. The total cost of capital spending, acquisitions, and dividend payments was approximately $347 million -- that still left $164 million behind for the company to play with. Last year's "play money" was about $108 million. I love it when a business can cover all those costs with operational cash flow. And take note: Avery Dennison has been doing quite well on the dividend-increasing front.

Avery Dennison may operate in a boring space, but it provides products that businesses will always need, and it is a powerful brand in this arena -- hey, I've purchased a label or two in my time from the company. It's a dividend stalwart, and so long as it can maintain the value of its brand equity, compete effectively with peers such as Bemis (NYSE:BMS) and 3M (NYSE:MMM), and continue to keep an eye on cost containment, it should reward patient investors. One note about patience: Getting the stock at a higher yield would be commendable. It's currently trading not too far from its 52-week high, so one might expect that pullbacks are in the offing. Nevertheless, at a yield of 2.2%, Avery Dennison makes for a great long-term investment idea.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 2,493 out of 20,680 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. 3M is an Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.